Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throw The Kids to the Wolves - Independence & Parenting

This is what comes through my ears when other parents go on about the wide latitude they allow their children and the relatively narrow one that I give mine. Sleepovers? Riding public transportation? Staying out until late late past midnight? Going to parties where no-one’s sure the host’s parents are home?  Might as well just set them free in the wild lands and roaming plains with the coyotes and rattlesnakes.

As parents, we all have our limits of what we think is age appropriate for our children and what we want them to experience and be exposed to. That’s one of the fundamental rights of being a parent – you get to make choices for another person. For eighteen years, you are the legislative, judicial, and executive decision maker.

But, I guess it’s human nature to try to change other people’s mind to the way you’re thinking. I mean, there’s how many college majors and professions based primarily on the ability to do this successfully?

If you want your kid to spend the night at other people’s houses from the time they can find their way to the bathroom, go right on ahead.  Your choice. It’s just not mine.  They need to what – learn how to sleep somewhere else? Brush their teeth without being told? Be independent? What other reasons are stuffed into sleeping bags each weekend? In the grand scheme of life, I figure they’ll get this when it’s time. For now, they sleep in the bed in this house. For variety, they can even camp out in their sibling’s room if they want.

Since my oldest entered high school, folks have been trying to get me to put her on the public bus. Admittedly, this would be more convenient for me, as I make my daily trek to get her from sports practice. But, for right now, its not so bad and its part of my duty as a parent – make sure my kid gets home safely.  We’ve talked about figuring out the bus route for that day when I just can’t make it and we’ve run out of plan B and C, so I’m not against the bus thing. It just hasn’t become a necessity, yet.

But again – the parental reasons why – she needs to be street-smart, she need to be independent, she needs to know the bus system.  Isn’t that a parent’s choice of what they want for their kid?  As a teen-ager, I learned to catch the bus because that’s how I got to and from my job, when my parents weren’t home. And my kids have ridden the Metro, subways, buses, trains, cabs, and ferries in a bunch of different cities. I get it, I’m not anti-public transportation.  I just don’t think this means I need to throw my 9-year old on the Metro and say “find your way home” to get her ready for the world, even if there are kids younger doing the same in cities all across the country.  I do draw the line at putting my kid in a cab by herself, though. Nope, not gonna happen. You can give me a list of reasons why, stats about safe driving, etc. etc. Nope.

And parties without parents in the house? Whatever.

All this chit-chat about all the freedoms kids should enjoy? It’s like letting a little rabbit free to roam across the plains. I can see the wolf hiding behind the cactus.

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