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How to Raise Independent Children

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By Caroline Schafer

As children grow, parents try to teach them independence. But how, exactly, does a parent go about raising an independent child? Family talked with Navy veteran Melissa Green. Melissa is married to retired sailor Landis Green, and she is the mom of Alante (21), Alijah (16), Zaiden (14), and Eva (12). She is also the Founder and CEO of Rise Above Coffee Company and Southern Sweet & Sassy Coffee.

What does raising independent children mean to you?

“Raising independent children means setting them up for success in the future. I’m one of those parents that ‘preaches’ the importance of obtaining your high school diploma. Then, you can either get a good-paying job or go into the military. Also, when you are stable and ready, you can purchase a car, buy or rent a home, and then start your own family. It may sound unusual to some, but I want my kids to have experiences: travel, make money, have fun with friends, and experience life before settling down and having a family.

“For example, my son is driving age, and we are about to work on getting his permit. He has asked me about getting him a car. My answer to this is: ‘when you are responsible at school, you can get a job to save up for a car. When you have a decent amount saved, we’ll match it.’ I want my kids to understand that nothing in this life is free.”

What benefits have you seen in raising independent children?

“We teach our children that there is a sense of satisfaction in earning something you’ve worked to accomplish from small things to big things. It gives them a new respect for themselves. This fosters independence and is reflected in behavior and attitude. I’m also respectful of ‘most’ of my kids decisions. I know that my son, Alijah, is not one to attempt college. At least not now. That may change in the future, and that’s okay. He is set on going into the military. My other son, Zaiden, is gung-ho about getting into Cyber and Coding. Guess what? Momma has his back. I can tell him the tricks of the trade and how to get where he wants to go. We are pushing the Air Force because it has a fantastic Cyber program. My youngest, Eva, has wanted to be a firefighter for the longest [time]. That’s amazing! And again, the Air Force has an outstanding Fire Department. Plus, that experience will help her when she gets out and wants to work for a city. Our oldest, Alante, is still figuring out her way. And that’s okay. I don’t know anyone who has their life together at 21 years of age.”

What advice do you have for parents who want to raise independent children?

     “The best advice I can give is to listen to them when you’re having conversations with your children. First, it shows you respect them. Then, when they run into those issues where they feel stuck, you can guide them as they grow into independence. Finally, it allows you to help them plan where they’re going.”

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