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Responsible Independence: Giving Your Child Their Freedom

Parenting can be quite a challenge. One of the more difficult things we face is finding the right balance between freedom and responsibility. You see, children have a strong desire for freedom. They want to go wherever they want, do whatever they want, eat whatever they want, and so on.

Meanwhile, as parents, we want them to be responsible. We want them to make wise choices and consider the consequences, to clean their room, to take care of the family pet, to do their homework, etc. When these two desires clash, it can create some unhappy moments.

But, I’d like to propose that there’s a way to satisfy your child’s thirst for freedom while also instilling a sense of responsibility. Believe it or not, freedom and responsibility are not opposing forces. In fact, they go hand in hand. You can’t truly have one without the other.

Expecting freedom without responsibility is a recipe for chaos, just as expecting responsibility without freedom is downright oppressive. So, it’s clear that both aspects are necessary.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) tells us to, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

This scripture reminds us of the importance of guiding our children towards the right path. It acknowledges that children need direction and guidance from their parents. Giving them appropriate freedom as they grow can be a part of that guidance, allowing them to learn and make choices within boundaries.

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach them values, morals, and the importance of making wise decisions. By providing them with the necessary freedom to experience and learn from their actions, while still offering guidance, we can help them develop into responsible individuals who will continue to walk on the right path as they mature.

Here’s a Helpful Tip:

If you want to see your child become more responsible, give them a little more freedom.

As parents, we sometimes rush in to save our children from any potential mistakes or failures. But the truth is, the best teacher for your child is experience itself. And they can only gain that experience if they’re allowed a bit of freedom.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you turn a blind eye to situations where there’s a genuine risk of harm to themselves, others, or property. In those cases, it’s important to step in and protect them. But, in most scenarios, we can afford to loosen the reins a little and let them learn and explore on their own.

I understand that this might sound intimidating. Giving your child more freedom means they might make mistakes, encounter setbacks, or choose different paths than what you’d prefer. But here’s the beauty of it: through experiencing the natural consequences of their actions, they will develop a deeper understanding of responsibility and make more informed choices. They will learn to navigate life’s challenges and become more accountable for their decisions.

So, remember, finding the right balance between freedom and responsibility is one key to effective parenting. By allowing your child some freedom to learn and grow, while still ensuring their safety, you’re equipping them with valuable life lessons. It’s through their experiences and the lessons learned from them that they will develop responsibility and make wiser choices.

To watch our short video on this topic, Click Here.


  • Chris Reed | Pastor to Parents | Saddleback Church

    Chris married his beautiful bride, Tina, in 1990. They have three wonderful adult children, Jacob, Kaylee, and Macie Joy. Chris began pastoring at a church in Los Angeles in 1995 where he was the Children’s and Student Pastor. He was the Executive Pastor of Student Ministries at John Maxwell's church in South Florida before he came to Saddleback in 2008 as our Pastor to 20s/30s. He has since served as Pastor to Singles and Pastor to Marriages. He is currently our Pastor to Parents leading the charge for all things Parents Ministry at Saddleback. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies and his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

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