Saturday, 2 June 2012

Letting go

Last night we happened to switch channels and caught the second half of "Politically Incorrect Parenting".  Oh my goodness it made me laugh!

Nigel Latta was talking about the five myths of parenting and the thing I mostly got out of it (other than laughter) was that much of the parenting advice we read or hear doesn't really help - it just makes us feel inadequate.  Most of us are now so afraid of letting our kids experience the full gamut of emotions and experiences in the world (including risk!) because we think it will break them, either physically or emotionally.  But in actual fact, we smother them, making them useless in the real world.

They did a little case study on a school that has brought back monkey bars and all those "rough" games that were banned.  The kids are encouraged to climb trees and play tackle games.  They've even extended recess times to allow the kids to really get rid of their energy, saying that it actually makes class time more productive.

The Principal of the school said a bunch of things that really made sense to me.  One of them was that they were aiming to give children a childhood.  Let them learn and explore and compete.

I've spoken to lots of parents who are frustrated by the restrictions we place on our kids but don't feel that it's safe enough to remove those restrictions.  And us mothers in particular are almost slaves to our children - we make their lunches because they're not responsible enough to pack healthy stuff, we walk them to school because they'll get hurt if we don't... we wrap them in cotton wool and then wonder why they're so afraid and unadventurous!  And unable to work out solutions to the big and little problems of life.

This afternoon the Little Big Fella wanted to go across the road to see the horses but the Big Fella and I were having a drink and a conversation.  So we let him go by himself.  He ran gleefully down the driveway, got himself through the gate without letting the puppies out, ran to the road and stopped.

I'd been watching from upstairs (not quite ready to let go completely just yet - he is only 3!) and thought he'd run straight on to the road.

But he stopped.

He looked carefully both ways.

Then he continued running over to the horses and had a great time talking to them and patting the mare's nose.

My mothers' heart melted.  My little boy is learning some of the steps to being independent!

I packed his lunch and some snacks in his lunchbox today because there was a possibility we'd be out around lunchtime.  He helped himself to the food throughout the afternoon and was happy!  So was I because he wasn't hassling me constantly (he eats a lot some days).

When he goes to school in a couple of years, he will be making his own lunch and walking or riding to school by himself.

Sure, he might need some help initially, and I'll walk or ride with him until I think he's capable on his own, but my job as a parent is to help my son develop his independence until he's able to live in the world on his own and leave our home as an adult.  That doesn't start the day before he turns 18!  It has to start now!  Or else he won't be ready and I will have done him the greatest disservice.

I'm not willing to let that happen.  And I will fight, if I have to, to make sure that he is not pandered to, molly coddled and given unrealistic expectations of what life is really like!

I don't want a mamma's boy who can't look after himself, do his laundry, be hygienic, or control his own finances.  Inasmuch as I can, I will help my son become a great friend, worker, and hopefully partner.

Gosh I gotta lotta work ahead of me :-D

And balancing my expectations of both myself and my son is going to be tricky sometimes.  But I think if I keep in mind that neither of us are perfect, and the goal is independence, we might just figure it out well enough.

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