The other day, I sat in the car and let my 11 and 9-year-old children take a package into the post office for me. They were adamant that they could handle it. I could see the door the whole time, and it took all of about 7 minutes. So why was it that I sat there, staring at the door, hoping that “nothing” happened? It wasn’t because I thought they weren’t completely capable of doing what I had asked/they wanted to help with. I was worried that some passing stranger would declare me an unfit mother and call the police. For whatever reason, letting kids learn responsibility is frowned upon now.
My children want to wait in the car while I run in the grocery store for 15 minutes. I am completely scared to let them do this because I expect to be called out for it. Called out for what exactly? Letting an almost teen and his sister sit in an unmoving car, with the doors locked, parking brake on and instructions not to open for anyone for any reason? My son is about 4 years from driving a car himself!
So why is it that I feel like I can’t offer my kids new and different and more challenging ways to mature if I’m out in public? Why is what was called “parenting” in the past, now considered an old-fashioned and grassroots kind of parenting? Is “helicopter mom” the person I’m supposed to be? I don’t want to be that mom. At. All.
I am proud of the fact that my children were doing barn work – feeding chickens and collecting eggs – at 5 years old. I love that they knew how to use our gas stove to make macaroni just a year later. Disappearing to the creek on our property (in pairs) without me? No Problem. By 8, I was leaving my kids home alone for a couple hours at a time. We have safety rules in place, of course, but I leave them alone on purpose.
All of these are just stepping stones to a future I’m planning for my kids: success.
I feel confident letting them make many of their own choices. I don’t hover over them when it comes to school. I don’t ask them each night if they have homework, don’t ask when every test is, and don’t “care” about their grades. You see, I don’t have to worry about these things because they are a responsibility belonging to my children. Yes, sometimes they fail a test and sometimes they forget to do homework, but this happens so rarely that it doesn’t worry me when it does happen. They know that next time they should study harder or make homework a priority. My kids are responsible. They can and do wash their own clothes and decide if cutting their hair and nails is something they’d like to do. I love this quality about them. I feel confident that once they leave their Dad and me, they will survive on their own, quite well. THAT is the true goal of parenting – to provide our kids with the tools to go out and live their own lives. I just wish society would lighten up on parents and let us actually parent our children.