Parental Turning Points

I have always been an involved parent, not a helicopter parent, but well engaged. I pushed for my kids to make decisions, take risks and even at times fail. My thought was that is was better to fail and learn a lesson in the 4th grade than to fail in high school or college, because the lesson never got learned. I have given my children tools to question their teachers, and given their teacher permission to be unrelenting and penalize my children when they get out of line.

That is what a good parent does- engage their children and be actively involved in their school life. I was in the PTA/PTO ( I even had an office for a while) I assisted with Girl Scouts, Lego League, Science Olympiad and the Band Boosters. As a result of all of this involvement, I was always informed about the activities, fund raisers and deadlines for the organizations they were involved in. When you are trying to be a working parent it is makes life much more streamlined if you know what is due when. Apparently, it is also easy for your children to become dependent on this and not develop the skill themselves.

Yesterday, I had an internal revelation that turned into a discussion with my 16 year old daughter. “I am done making myself stressed out in order to make your life better”, I said. It seems we had ended up in a place where I knew her schedule better than she did. I was the one stressing if she was late or not, organized or not, correctly packed or not. This was NOT a way for either of us to live. It was putting my stress levels over the top, and blocking her from becoming a responsible adult. Complete opposite of original intentions- gotta love parenting, eh?

“I don’t want you to stress out over me Mom,” she replied- “Actually, I think if I knew I did not have anyone to rely on, I might get better at keeping track of things myself. When I know I can rely on you, I get lazy and do not pay close attention myself”.

So. Everyone tells you the most important thing in early child development is that your child feels secure and knows they can count on you… but there is some point in that development where knowing that they always have someone to fall back on can actually keep them from growing up. How do you know when you get to that point? I do not have a good answer for that one– I still believe that throwing a kid on their own too soon is not a good thing. No second grader should have to be self-reliant. But there is also a time for the mama bird to throw the baby out of the nest and have confidence that the flight instinct will kick in and the fall will not kill them.

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