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Letting Go

This post has nothing to do with writing or romance or TV or any of the things I usually write about. Today I’m talking about my kids, specifically my oldest, Eeyore. This past weekend he asked if he could go see The Avengers with his friends. Alone. As in, no parental supervision.

I immediately said yes. He followed with, “Do you think Dad will say yes?” While my initial reaction was it didn’t matter, I knew what he was asking. My husband has a harder time letting the kids grow up. I try to push my kids to be independent. I want them to be confident and comfortable doing things on their own.

My husband didn’t fight the movie issue, even though I could tell he wanted to. It had nothing to do with my son not being old enough to see the movie or the lack of supervision, but it was because my husband felt he was losing his movie buddy.

They go see all of the action movies together because the girls aren’t old enough or interested in seeing them. Occasionally Eeyore saves a movie specifically for me. The Hunger Games was one. That’s because he knew he could make me read the book before going to see the movie and we could discuss it afterward. Although my husband would be willing to see the movie, my son knew he wouldn’t get Dad to read the book. Most of the time, though, it’s a buddy thing for them to see a movie.

In thinking about this post, and my assertion that I want my kids to be independent, I started to question how much I really believe that. I still do my kids’ laundry (although I don’t put it away). I still cut their meat at dinner. I still make lunches for them every night. They are all old enough to do these things themselves; I should know, I made my own lunch starting in the first grade.

Sometimes I think I have as much of hard time letting go as my husband does. Part of the reason I do these things is because they weren’t done for me as a kid. I was a latchkey kid. My older brother was no help in anything. I spent a lot of time watching out for my younger brother. No one was home to help me with my homework. Hell, no one even checked to make sure I’d done it.

So sometimes, I feel like a helicopter parent when I check with teachers and go over

homework. Up until this year, when I started working more, I always volunteered in my kids’ classes. They asked me to and I obliged, again because my mother had never done that.

I don’t want to make it sound like my mother was a horribly uninvolved parent. In many ways, she was, but she was a single mom working long hours to support us. Her unintentional neglect taught me to be independent and strong. I can fend for myself. I’m not sure I can say the same for my kids.

As a parent, how do you know when to let go? Is it possible to be objective and know if you’re hovering?

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About Shannyn Schroeder

Mom of 3, editor, and contemporary romance writer

12 responses »

  1. I’ve found that if you trust your children to know when they are ready for that next step in independence, you can rarely go wrong. Within reason.

    We moved and in moving we are closer to my daughter’s new school. At first I would walk her to school and pick her up until one day she told me “I think I can walk home by myself” and that was that. We still walk her to school, which may be a bit helicopterish, but I need to see her delivered to the playground. Maybe next year.

    Reply
    • My son asked to walk to school this year (middle school). We live almost a mile and a half away, but I said he could if he found friends to walk with. My husband hated the idea. My son was too lazy to find people to walk with so he carpools.

      The problem with letting my kids decide is that my oldest and youngest already think they’re pretty grown up and my middle one would never leave 🙂

      Reply
  2. I would think that would be so hard. I’m not a parent, but I see the struggles my parents have had with my little brother. When I was growing up my parents were still getting started on their adult lives, so I did a lot of fending for myself. But my brother came along when they were fully into their careers and had time to volunteer at his school and things like that. I can see a difference in the way they hover and in the way that he is much less responsible for himself than I ever was. I think there has to be a happy medium between helicopter and not there. I could have used some more parenting and my brother needs more responsibility. It sounds like you are finding that in between place with your kids. Hopefully, when I have kids I will find it, too.

    Reply
  3. I grew up with six siblings. There was sporadic supervision, because my father worked away a lot, and my guess is a lot depended on when my mother was pregnant or with a newborn. We older kids became caretakers. We were all very independent at an early age but I seriously think some important things were overlooked.
    As a parent I tended to hover until my kids were out of high school. I gave them certain leeway as youngsters but still held the reins. Once they went off to college I had to loosen up on my control. When they returned home I had to remind myself (even though it was difficult) that they had lives of their own. I must say they have both turned into really nice adults and we are close. But even now, when one is 32 and one 29, I still have to remind myself not to be a hovering mother. : ) It is an artform to learn to love without control.

    Reply
  4. I’m interested in the helicopter parent thing. I’m not a parent, but it seems to me in general most parents are way too involved with their older kids these days. Many of my friends have college aged kids who act like high school kids in terms of dependence on the “parental units.” Or maybe it’s just me and my friends!! LOL!

    Reply
  5. I’m not a mom, so I can’t answer from that perspective, but I can answer as a now-grown child who had very involved parents. And my answer is that the people who worry about it are usually the ones who are already doing it right.

    Reply
  6. I’m sending my oldest to kindergarten this fall and I’m sure from now on my hubby and I will be discussing this issue. I had lots of supervision and rules as an only child, until my senior year of high school, when my parents were moving and spent time in another state while I kept going to my old school. My hubby is the youngest of five and had less attention and supervision. Hopefully we’ll find a middle ground as we begin the long process of letting our child out in the world without us.

    Reply

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