Submitted by Eleanor Wiebe
Even though it was a little unusual back in the '60s and '70s, my husband and I both worked while we raised our two girls. We encouraged independence and self-reliance from a very early age and were happy to send them out into the world knowing they could make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions.
When the girls were in pre-school, I spent time with them each evening after dinner reading, talking about their day, making up songs about their activities, and rubbing their backs as they went to sleep. Their father read to them a lot too, and he made up games that included things like finding places on the large map we hung on a wall in our home.
We always gave our girls choices. We started small by letting them choose what to wear to school, and then later, as teens, they were given a clothing allowance which they could save or use to buy the fashion they wanted. We supplied the basics like underwear, socks, and shoes.
When they were in school, I often asked them if they would rather that I didn't work so I could be at home more, and their answer was always that same, "No, because you are more interesting when you work.”
My husband (their father) was a college professor, so he had more flexible hours and was usually around when they came home from school. That was a blessing.
As for rules, we drew an imaginary circle around them and they were free to do what they wanted within it. But when they stepped outside of that circle (e.g. staying out past curfew or not letting us know where they were), there were consequences. One daughter often thanks us for giving her a curfew. Maybe this is why she still goes to bed early!
We always ate our evening meal together so each of us could talk about our day or other topics of interest. These family times are what they tell us they remember the most.
Now, all of these years later, we can see that they, along with their husbands, do even better than we did as parents.