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Aug 04

Independence – and how do I teach it without feeling like I’m being a neglectful parent

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=69173

I just read this fascinating blog post – and it really, really resonated with me. Jessie went up to Maine this summer with my sister, and had the most incredible time. Everyone up there kept telling me how happy she was, how independent and confident and self assured she was. She was roaming all over the island, doing her own thing, having fun and trusting herself. But here at home, I don’t give her nearly as much freedom. I know where she is, every step of the way. I watch her like a hawk, because I love her and want her safe. But how much am I stifling her? I let her play outside yesterday afternoon for an hour or two, and didn’t check on her once. Not that I didn’t think about her, because I did, but I didn’t check on her, because I trusted her. She knows the rules, she knows not to go into anyone’s house without checking with me, she knows to stay on our road. She knows this – and is old enough to follow the rules. I just need to be able to let her do it.

Letting them grow up is so freaking hard. It’s so hard to give them a bit of control, to allow them the chance to screw up and take risks. Because I want to shelter and protect and above all, keep them safe. All the time. I want no boo boos, no sunburns, I want them safe and sound every single second. But I also want them to be brave and to take chances, to be adults who really trust themselves and know that they are capable of handling their lives. I can see, all around me, kids who are so protected that they are afraid of doing anything that’s not strictly supervised. I don’t want that for my kids – I want strong, healthy adults.

So I’m going to push them to take risks. I’m going to push them to be out and about, playing without me hovering. I’m going to treat my seven year old like a seven year old, not like a four year old. I’m going to give her a chance to grow up, even if it’s super hard.

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