Happy Independence Day Nigeria – Are you Raising Independent or Contingent Children?

independence day children

It is true that from infancy, humans are on a quest for independence. Every time we celebrate the Independence Day in Nigeria, I feel that raising our children to learn to be independent as adults is a task many educators and parents struggle with. Especially in a country that is independent yet dependent.

It is a natural occurrence for the young to learn independent skills. However, all too often we find many young adults struggling for many years. Many are becoming increasingly reliant on their parents for social, emotional and financial support.

One thing that definitely stands out is OVERPARENTING or what is called HELICOPTER PARENTING.

A Stanford University Dean said in a topic from HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT,…

…“I began to worry that college “kids” (as college students had become known) were somehow not quite formed fully as humans. They seemd to be scanning the sidelines for Mom or Dad. Underconstructed. Existentially impotent.”


Please do not think the situation raised above is different from what we have seen or are experiencing in Nigeria.

Many parents today are unusually reliant on their own parents for some assistance or the other. It is often difficult to lay blame on who should have done what. The country got more difficult as populations rose, resources thinned and corruption thrived.

What is clear is that many things are just not right and they should be fixed. Fixed by today’s parents themselves with conscious parenting styles.

There are a lot of today’s parents doing a combination of overdirecting, overcomplaining, overprotecting or overinvolving in their children’s lives.  According to Psychology Today, there are two types of children – Contingent and Independent Children.

Contingent Children

  • They depend on others to provide them incentive to achieve success.
  • Their parents act on their own needs for power and use control and coercion to ensure they remain the dominant forces in their lives. Unknowingly sometimes, and knowingly, their parents want to foster this dependence.
  • They depend on others for their happiness because they have no ownership of their lives and little responsibility for their own thoughts, emotions and actions.
  • They are reinforced with inappropriate rewards and no limits regardless of their behavior.
  • They become poor decision makers because their parents hold the belief that they always know what is best and make decisions without soliciting their children’s wishes.

Independent Children

  • They are intrinsically motivated because they are allowed to find their own reasons to achieve (especially without excessive shout-downs or coercion).
  • They are given the opportunity and guidance to explore achievement and activities of their own choosing.
  • Their parents use extrinsic rewards appropriately and sparingly.
  • They are provided with ample belief that they are competent and capable of taking care of themselves and learning important lessons.
  • They have a collaborative rather than controlled relationship with their parents in which children’s ideas and wishes are solicited and considered.
  • They are good decision makers because they were allowed to consider various options and, with support and guidance of their parents, make their own decisions.

Here are some tips that will help us today in raising Independent Children.

  1. Give children real love and respect.
  2. Show confidence in your children’s capabilities. Keyword here is to SHOW it.
  3. Teach and tell them that they have control over their lives.
  4. Provide guidance and then give them the freedom to make their own decisions.
  5. Teach Responsibility – let them play roles in the house. They must be responsible to certain doable tasks at home. Raise the ante as they get older. Kind of like everyone knows Adaobi is responsible to cleaning the tables. There should be consequences for not fulfilling this role – like adding a new responsibility. Be loving but firm about it.
  6. Make a list of what you will be doing to help them succeed and stand by it.
  7. Demand accountability. Do not allow blaming to thrive in your home such as blaming others for bad luck, or unfairness.
  8. Encourage exploration but keep them safe. Put a kind of leash on their exploration. This goes a long way in building their sense of security and safety so needed in Nigeria as emergency health and security services are not always available. However, let them know you are there to help should they find themselves in unsafe situations. When they have found their sense of security, encourage them to explore beyond the safety net you have provided them.



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  1. Lovely piece Rhoda,I am an advocate of raising independent children, it also has a huge advantage in prolonging the days of the parents too,especially mothers * you know what I mean*.

  2. Well said, Rhoda.
    How independent are we raising our children to be, then??
    How independent are we ourselves in our own thoughts and actions??
    Or how contingent, even as grown adults??
    Food for some thought there.
    Happy Independence, Nigerians….

  3. Nice one, I pray our modern day parents especially the mothers will read this and take some cues from there. Thanks for this! I shared it, my apologies pls and thanks again.

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