In the United States today, people far and wide are celebrating.  It is Independence Day.  It is a day to honor the country and how it has evolved into what it is today – a free and democratic society.  It can also be a day to celebrate independence on another level…the independence of our children.

Perhaps it is an infant, learning to sit up alone or crawl.  Maybe a small child who has mastered the pincer grip and can grab his or her own food.  Or, maybe it is a small child who can play unassisted with a favorite toy.

It could be the toddler, learning to use new words and gestures.  Perhaps he or she have just learned to walk or run, climb and reach to get things that are wanted.  Independence from diapers – being able to take care of oneself – or even dress on his or her own can be celebrated.

Look at the preschooler, learning to recognize letters and write in his or her own way.  Maybe he or she is finally free from the parental grasp on the back of the bike and can now pedal that big wheel, tricycle or bicycle.  He or she might be learning to make choices on their own, based on their wants and desires.

Then there’s the grade-schooler: stretching his or her own wings and learning to thrive in society.  Maybe it is a sleepover or an unaccompanied birthday party that gives them the feeling of becoming independent.  Taking part in family discussions and decisions can help him or her feel valued and important, too.

And, as children grow, other milestones lay ahead on the road to independence: allowances, choices of friends, learning to drive, college.  All of these are steps that our children take, a little at a time, to becoming independent, productive members of society.

So today, celebrate the birth of a nation, but take a moment to celebrate another birth as well.  Celebrate your child’s independence!