“I do as I please, Monsieur Beauchamp, and believe me, what I do is always well done.” ― Alexandre Dumas
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]As you are reading this, chances are I am on my way to Chattanooga to see the boys. Well, at least one of them, maybe. The oldest is happy to be working the holiday weekend. Pvt. Letbetter is taking a short leave with friends in L.A. So, the youngest is, by default, stuck with Dad. This is what happens when children are raised to be independent; they grow up and go do their own thing with their own friends. Maybe they’ll send pictures, if they happen to think about it, but chances are we’ll have to prod them just to make sure they’re still safe. While I’ll miss having the other two around, this is ultimately a good thing. They are exercising their independence and it would be inappropriate to attempt to prevent that.
I never have understood this whole trend toward helicopter parenting; hovering over one’s offspring as though the umbilical cord was still attached. Loving one’s children does not require smothering them with so much of your attention that they become unable to sufficiently function without you. As much as we love our children, we need a break from them and I’m quite sure they welcome not seeing our faces for a few minutes. We want to be accessible when they have a legitimate need for assistance, such as kissing a boo-boo after they’ve face-planted the sidewalk (just as soon as we stop giggling about how funny it looked). We don’t want to shadow them to the point they lose their identity in our desires.
One of the larger playgrounds we frequent with Kat’s little ones is the perfect place for them to run and play without us needing to eyeball them the entire time. They run, they play, they make new friends, and when they’re sufficiently exhausted they come find us. We then tell them to go and play thirty minutes more because we don’t want them getting a second wind on the ride home. This is not just an exercise in independence, this is an exercise in wearing the children out so they’ll fall asleep without two hours of argument. We love going there.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]However, I am always amused by the parents of their peers who never sit down and take advantage of the intelligent way the playground is arranged. They stay right there within arms reach, not letting their child take even the slightest risk, manipulating their peer relationships, and managing their playtime. I’ve noticed these parents don’t stay at the park as long and I can only assume that it’s because they exhaust themselves more than they do their children. Some parents just have an emotional need to be close to their children; I get that. Their children, on the other hand, would probably do much better if mom and dad would back off just an itsy bit every once in a while.
Independence is something into which a child should grow, not something to which they flee out of desperation. Yes, they are going to make mistakes. Yes, they are going to fall, or get lost, or have heart breaks. How else does one learn how to manage the challenges of life if one’s parents are there rapidly applying salve to every little scrape and preventing them from experiencing the natural consequences of their actions? We’ve seen the adults those children become and it’s not attractive.
Many of the models with whom we work now are close in age to my own children and I often find myself making comparisons. Were they to be like the model in today’s picture I would be happy; she’s independent, ambitious, knows what she wants and is in control of her future (to the extent anyone can be). Not many people we meet are so impressive. She’s had more than her share of challenges and has weathered them well. She loves her mom, but she’s unquestionably her own person.
Maybe we’ll only see one son this trip. That’s quite alright because we love all three enough to let go and let them become who they need to be. Laws of nature demand baby birds leave the nest and fly. We just hope they’ll send pictures. That’s independence done well. [/one_half_last]