There comes a time, much sooner than you think, when your child wants to wield his or her independence. How do you know when it’s time to ease up on the parental controls?
You feel the early pangs of it when they ask to walk to the school bus by themselves for the first time. Your heart leaps into your throat at all the ways it could go terribly, tragically wrong. But you know that you need to foster this sense of independence rather than quash it. Do you let them go but follow them far enough behind, ducking behind trees so they don’t notice you? Been there, done that.
As they get older, they want to stay home alone rather than run errands with you. Are they old enough to be left behind without you worrying they may accidentally burn the house down trying to microwave a pizza pop? What age did you let your child stay home alone? How many explicit instructions did you give? “Don’t answer the door. Don’t even go near the door! Don’t use the stove. Don’t use aluminum foil in the microwave if you make something! Should I make you lunch before I go? Don’t answer the phone. Unless it’s me. Make sure you answer the phone if I call! I’ll be back in half an hour. Do you know my cell phone number? I’m writing it down for you. Are you sure you’ll be okay? Maybe I don’t really need to get milk, after all.” Sound familiar?
Then come the friends. Your child asks you if they can go and hang out at X’s house. You want to be relaxed, but your stomach roils as you try not to re-enact the Spanish Inquisition. Who is this kid? Are his parents going to be home? Do they own guns and leave them carelessly around? Have they ever been arrested and would it be impolite of you to ask for a criminal check? Maybe they smoke and will kill your child with second-hand smoke! Is there a pool your child might drown in? Does a pedophile live next door? The questions run through your head like escaped chickens from the coop, but you do your best to smile and ask what time he’d like to be picked up. It’s not just me, right?
Don’t even get me started on what it’s going to be like when he leaves for university in a few years.
Raising your child well is hard. But learning to let them go out into the world and prove that you did your job right is even tougher. I take comfort in what mine told me the other day: “Mom, don’t worry. Nothing has ever happened to me, and nothing ever will.”
From his lips to God’s ears.
Feature image: David Castillo Dominici, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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About Jo-Anne Craine
Jo-Anne is a parent of two and a freelance writer and editor at Type A Creative, which delivers premium editorial services to local and international clientele on a spectrum of projects from article writing and blogging to copy editing and comprehensive manuscript editing in many genres. She writes for Metroland Media’s community section at Save.ca and has been published in YummyMummyClub.ca and Wedding Essentials magazine, among others. You can follow her on Twitter: @TypeACreative1 and Facebook or at www.typeacreative.ca.