This blog has also been cross-posted on the Today Show’s Parenting Community Page.
My dog and I took two kinds of walks. One was about taking care of business: The dog needed to walk and eliminate. I was in charge, and the goal was either to move fast and get exercise or to complete the walk as quickly as possible, because the weather was bad or I had a lot to do. The other walk was about making the dog happy. She set the pace, chose how long to sniff each tree and did her eliminating.
The other walk was about making the dog happy. She set the pace, chose how long to sniff each tree and did her eliminating when she was ready, with no pleading or commanding from me.
As a parent, many experiences with our children fall into one of these two categories. There are times when expediency and getting things done is essential to the success of the family. Getting out of the house and arriving on time at school and work is one of those experiences. Washing the car on an open Saturday afternoon can fall into the second category. For parents trying to build their child’s independence, we try to create environments and systems that allow many parts of the day to feel like the second type of walk while still getting things done.