What My Kids Did While I Wasn't Looking
Sometimes parents have a difficult time backing off and allowing children to take things into their own hands.
Our kids teach us the most basic but poignant lessons in their everyday efforts. They don’t even realize the power they hold in their small hands and whimsical smiles.
Sometimes I step back and just observe my children in their daily personas — how they interact with one another, how they step through making a decision on their own or how they take on a new challenge.
However, many times as a parent I try to anticipate every moment, disappointment or obstacle, and I quickly jump in to break the fall, buffer the outcome or avoid what I know will be hurt feelings. I am very guilty of doing this with my kids often, and I have been bluntly called out on this recently.
Both of them have told me in their own way that I don’t always give them the opportunity to take initiative to do something they are expected to do before assuming they won’t follow through. And they expressed that I often try to guide them too much when they just want the responsibility of handling something on their own using their best judgment.
I don’t always do that, do I? The truth is they are right. Those words stung as the realization set in. I need to back off.
This past week, I went on five-day cruise with my fiancé. I was unplugged with no laptop and no cellphone service. The most difficult part of the trip was not talking to my kids each day.
I worried about them getting their homework done. Would they study for their tests? Would my son brush his teeth? What plans did my daughter make that weekend? The purpose of the trip was to try to relax and come back refreshed, so I had no choice but to let go and just hope that I would come home to minimal chaos.
As I the boat pulled into port, I turned on my cellphone and finally touched based with the kids. The sky didn’t fall while I was abroad, and they seemed to have managed a few days without me.
My son told me that he got himself ready for picture day at school (specifically making sure he brushed his teeth). He even slicked back his hair. He said he had practiced every night for band and that he was determined to master a song by the end of the week. He also told me about a confrontation he had with another student and said he was proud of how he reacted to the situation without any involvement from adults.
My daughter filled me in on how she started a project early, made her Homecoming plans and caught up on a class she transferred into just a few days ago.
I never would have thought they would take all of this on without any support or prodding from me. This is a real eye opener. They really are capable.
There comes a point when we need to let our kids experience life in their time and through their choices, even if they do fall down. And what I am finding is that they are truly in tune with their gut instincts, wisdom, values and interests and make the decisions that are right for them. It’s time that I have faith in the way I am raising my kids and know that because of their core upbringing their independence and values will carry them through.
This means I’m doing something right. I walked over to my son’s closed bedroom door and listened against the wood frame as he blew into his baritone horn. As he stumbled on the few first notes, I knew he would get it right by the end of the week. I think I’ll book my next cruise.
Ready to get away and see how your kids do? Find local travel agents in the Bradenton Patch directory.