One of the most difficult parts of parenting is realizing that you need to give your kid the freedom to make their own decisions. If you’ve ever struggled with your child’s autonomy, you can take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Even Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard (aka the internet’s coolest parents) have had a difficult time with letting go.
In an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle, the couple talked about how their eight-year-old daughter Lincoln gave them “an earful” about how she didn’t want to have to be forced to go along with them on work trips. Bell said that while the couple felt some guilt, they were mainly proud that their daughter felt comfortable standing up for herself and expressing her needs.
“We were secretly really proud of how she was able to communicate that,” Bell explained. “And also, we felt awful. We were like, ‘Oh man, I thought they liked these trips… But they don’t. They want to do their thing. [What’s key] now is really recognizing, at all times, their autonomy. I have no ownership over them. I’m simply here to support them and make sure that they have shelter and food and water. And beyond that, I can only do the best that I can do. And if they say they don’t want to come on our work trips any more than that, that has to be respected.”
Communication is one of the biggest obstacles parents face with their kids, as it can be difficult for even the most well-intentioned mom or dad to give their child the space to express their needs and feelings. And if you are able to open up a line of healthy communication, it’s every bit as important to respect your child’s autonomy and their ability to make their own decisions.
In the case of Bell and Shepard, they were able to realize that while bringing their kids along when they travel for work, the travel was disrupting their daughters’ lives in a negative way. Rather than ignoring Lincoln’s request, the two heard her out and respected her independence enough to let her stay home.