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?