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In which they should think for themselves

Yesterday I was at a lacrosse game for Daniel and I was talking to a bunch of the other mothers and the following conversation took place.

 

Molly:    My husband is driving to Atlanta and back today.

 

Me:      Really? That’s a hell of a drive (it’s about 12 hours round trip).  Why is he doing that?

 

Molly:    Well, my daughter has a flight to Africa to catch and we have a graduation party tonight for our other daughter so he’s doing it in one day.

 

Me:      Why didn’t you just put her on a plane in Greensboro or Charlotte to Atlanta? (After all, the child is 21 years old)

 

Molly:    We were concerned that with her luggage and the way airlines are that she wouldn’t make her connection.

(I get that but really?)

 

Me:      You’re kidding me.  I put Daniel on a flight to Peru through Houston two years ago when he was 15 and wished him good luck.

 

Molly:    I would be too worried to do that.

 

Me:      Well, we went through a map of the airport so he would know where he was landing and how to change terminals and we bought him a cellphone to call if there was an emergency.

 

Molly:    I wish I could more like that but I just can’t.

 

Me:      Yeah, well I’m sort of a shit mom.  When Andie was coming home from New Zealand two years ago she had the worst flights in the world.  She had a 10-hour layover in Fiji and a 9-hour layover in Los Angeles.  There were two flights coming into Greensboro, one at 5:00 AM and one at 7:30 AM.  I put her on the 7:30 AM one figuring that her flights were so awful that two hours wouldn’t make a difference to her but there was no way I was getting up at 4:30 to pick her up from the airport.  I’m incredibly selfish.

 

Molly:    Wow

 

Me:      Yeah, I pretty much suck as a mom.

 

Molly:    Well, I don’t understand how you don’t worry about it.

 

And that’s my point.  It’s NOT that I never worry about my kids; it’s more like I feel it’s important that they learn to deal and to cope.  What happens when there’s an emergency and we’re not around to fix it for them?  Part of growing up is coping with unexpected situations.

 

I was discussing this with Andie last night when she said, “do you remember when you sent me up to JFK and told me to take the bus to the other terminal?”  “Yes”, I replied.  “When I got down to where the buses were I found out that THERE WERE NO BUSES anymore and I asked somebody and found out there was a monorail instead so I had to carry all my luggage over there.”

 

“And yet you figured it out” I replied.   Andie was on her way to Africa and apparently, they had changed things at JFK and Andie had to improvise and she did.  Which is why recently, when she had to make travel arrangements for Greece this summer, she managed to figure out all the flights, all the hostels, renew her passport and plan her itinerary ALL BY HERSELF.

 

I sometimes wonder what sort of situation we as parents are creating by not letting our children think and make mistakes for themselves.  There is an entire generation growing up expecting things to always go smoothly.  I’m not saying I have all the answers and I probably have an extreme view but sometimes people, let these kids work it out for themselves.

 

Or else, don’t be surprised if you are always over involved.  I’m just saying…

 

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30 Comments

  1. Galit Breen
    May 19, 2011

    Oh, you’re not a bad mom! You’re raising thinkers- there’s a difference! Those skills will stick with them and serve them well.

    The important part here is that you gave them the skills and knowledge to succeed (went through the map at the airport, etc).

    Fact is, we can’t be there for every “Whatif” so we can’t parent as if we will be. That’s not fair to anyone!

    I’m still working on this- but one day, I too, hope to have children who can fend for themselves!

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Thanks…I don’t think so either but sometimes when I’m talking to other parents, it just seems like letting them deal with their own shit is going to get me sent to Social Services.

      TOO MANY HELICOPTER PARENTS

  2. Lady Estrogen
    May 19, 2011

    It’s VERY important.
    I was SHOCKED at the lack of independence of most of my students and it was hard not to be sarcastic with them. I had 1 that needed to go into the city (1/2 hr) on the train for a portfolio interview (go to train station, there are only 2 platforms east & west, go east to city, get off at university stop) and she couldn’t do it by herself! WOOOWWW!!

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      I know…i understand the fear that many parents have but if they can’t fend for themselves, how will they ever live anywhere ELSE? This year I have really been working with my kids on that crap and i have one who I really have to drag kicking and screaming into independence. Just yesterday i made her deal with her own bank shit and she was EXTREMELY put out.

      That’s the real world i replied.

      Suck it Trebeck!!!

  3. Alison@Mama Wants This
    May 19, 2011

    I say good for you! It is important for kids to figure some stuff out for themselves, apron strings cut and all. Kids these days are too spoiled, they can barely wipe their own bottoms. Shocking!

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      hahaha…agreed. They’re not perfect and they’re not completely there but it’s a process.

  4. Name *
    May 19, 2011

    I think you’re awesome. I have so many friends with kids who are bombing real life once they leave the nest…why? because my friend’s have coddled & babied & done EVERYTHING for them. How’s that working out for you!? My mother instilled in me a sense of knowing my own mind, independence and survival skills – by leading by example first and letting me make my own mistakes second. What happened? I got out into the world and have had a pretty interesting & adventurous life – and I can take care of myself. And my mother has her own life! I guess I owe it to my mom because my same friends who have the crash & burn kids never left a 20 mile radius from their mothers. Anyway…I think you rock! =)

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate that. When i was growing up i made breakfast and lunch for myself every day from the time i was about 7 or 8. My mom got back in bed after waking us up. All three of us can fend for ourselves. Thanks for reading.

      • Name *
        May 19, 2011

        First visit to your blog and glad I found you. A colleague and I just had this conversation this morning as I am working on this w/ my girls…they are 5, 8 and 11. It dawned on me that I was doing too much for them so I’m cutting the umbilical cords for a 2nd time. My 11 yr old has to be on the bus at 630a. I have to get up to get ready for work but I had been waking her, feeding her, everything but wiping her ass. For the past 2 wks, she’s set her alarm and GASP…gets herself on the bus after fixing her own breakfast, etc. And guess what?? Not only can I jump in the shower earlier or savor a cup of coffee, Marin is proud of herself!! Go figure. I’m now making my 8 yr old get her own breakfast and snacks. She harumphed and whined but guess what….she’s doing it. My 5 yr old is a feisty miss independent so she won’t let me do anything for her anyway so she’s a breeze. I think I’ll have them make me dinner….

        • Lynn
          May 19, 2011

          good for you. I never woke my kids up. They set their alarms, got dressed and fixed breakfast. It’s not everything but its a helluva start. and welcome, it’s nice of you to comment.

  5. Suzy
    May 19, 2011

    I think you’re a brilliant mom for doing all that. The helicopter mom is THE most annoying mom on the planet and they’re doing a huge disservice to their child, their community and their future.
    Suzy recently posted..LA Sign Of The Times 78My Profile

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Thanks so much Suzy. My kids aren’t without their problems and flaws but I’m certainly working to make sure they can live in the REAL world, not the one in the mom bubble.

  6. Katja Brown
    May 19, 2011

    Lynn: Have you heard about the NY mom that let her son ride the subway and navigate the city UNSUPERVISED? It created a total uproar. This goes to show that parents nowadays like to coddle their offspring.

    I agree with you that, as a good parent, you need to prepare your kids to make it in the world on their own someday. Let me tell you my scariest flight story. I was trying to fly back to Dallas, TX on September 11, 2001 after having visited my family in Germany. Guess what happened??? Due to the American airspace being closed off, we landed in Gander, Newfoundland and had to stay there for 3 days until we were returned to Frankfurt because it was just not foreseeable when they would open the US airspace again. My kids were 3 months and 1 year and 3 months then. This experience taught me to pack necessities for several days in my carry-on luggage!

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Yeah, we’ve had some awful trips with the kids too. I’m just all about being proactive but also learning how to be reactive.

  7. Name *
    May 19, 2011

    I feel it is important for my kids to learn to think for themselves. I didn’t think much about it the first few years of their life and now at 5 my son freaks if something doesn’t work for him in 1.2 seconds. It just goes to show you that it is important to start early in letting them work things out for themselves. We are now in the process of undoing the harm we did by doing so much for him but at least he is only 5. This can be turned around :)

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      This was one of the biggest areas of contention between my husband and myself. He felt we shouldn’t baby the kids as much and that i babied them TOO MUCH. I did in some respects but not in others however in the long run, they’ll all be fine.

  8. Your kids sound very together with good heads on their shoulders – obviously the apples did not fall far from the tree!

    Ian traveled from 16 making his first trip to Russia for three weeks. I traveled the world but not until I was 23 – but the idea of my girls doing it puts me over the edge. It does – sorry!
    Hopefully I will get over it, but things like being attacked on a train near Cannes, having my car stolen in JHB, my parents attacked in cape Town and my girlfriend raped on a trip home – sort of put me on alert.
    Granted we were held at knife point right here in Boca outside the Cheesecake Factory … not exactly the most exotic of destinations ;)

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Well, those experiences are certainly enough to scare you but honestly, Keely was robbed at gunpoint in a yogurt store when she was 16 so what’s the point of panicking about stuff. Street smarts is what it’s all about.

  9. Jill
    May 19, 2011

    I think the greatest gift we can give our kids are the tools to be able to make good, rational decisions and let them figure stuff out on their own. My oldest son graduated from high school last week. When I looked around at all of these kids, I couldn’t help but wonder- how in the hell are they going to know what to do when they get to college? But my son? Not worried in the least. I know my son will figure it out, and he’s actually thanked me for making him do stuff on his own. I’m with you!

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Good for you…being capable is the greatest gift of all.

  10. Jessica
    May 19, 2011

    Seriously, how will kids ever learn to do anything themselves if their parents are always their doing it for them. I have a cousin whose mom has done almost everything for her. This girl is 26 and still lives with her mom even though she has a kid of her own. It’s so sad. I’m pretty sure she if she ever gets married they will still live with my Aunt. Cut the string people. Seriously.

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Wow…i wonder if she knew how she was enabling as she did it. I hope she likes her daughter as she seems to be a lifer

  11. Jenn
    May 19, 2011

    I think you are an awesome mom! Being able to do things for oneself seems to be a dying art nowadays!

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      Thanks…i appreciate it

  12. Leigh Ann
    May 19, 2011

    This is awesome. That’s why your kids will never be the ones stomping their feet, shouting at the attendant that “This is unacceptable!” because they can’t get their way. Unless it’s for good reason of course.

    And that makes you an awesome mom.

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      hahaha…well, they can stand up for themselves but it’s certainly been a process.

  13. Kimberly
    May 19, 2011

    You are definitely not a helicopter parent. And every college in the world probably thanks you for your service as a parent who knows that their child is capable enough to handle whatever life throws their way. You deserve a medal (and a half)!

    • Lynn
      May 19, 2011

      ahhh…thanks girl…we’ll see. my kids are certainly not without their flaws

  14. tracy@sellabitmum
    May 19, 2011

    Such a great post. I remember when I was 11, my parents let me fly across the country by myself – making two connections. I missed my 2nd connection and spent the night in the airport all by myself sleeping on a chair. I didn’t even call my parents to let them know as I don’t think I even had change to make a call. It was awesome. Oh, and I lived.
    tracy@sellabitmum recently posted..I am wearing pants todayMy Profile

    • Lynn
      May 20, 2011

      wow…that’s incredible. I flew across the country to New Mexico when i was 12 alone but i didn’t miss any connections. Now wonder you are so damn awesome!

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