Holding On

It is so easy to criticize others. After all if we criticize others, then we can spend less time beating our own selves up. When it comes to parenting, we all have our opinions, ideas, etc. However, parenting ultimately can be very humbling and while we may think we know what we are doing, it seems to me that we are ultimately learning as we go along more than anything else.

This past weekend my family and I spent some time in a park nearby. My 8 year old (BR) wanted to go as some kids mentioned they were going to be playing baseball.  I was not anxious to go.  He has gotten better at the sport. However, these other kids are already veteran little leaguers and take the sport much more seriously.  Was it that big a deal if they were better?  Was that the right thing to do? Aren’t I supposed to protect him?

My wife and I tend to be overprotective. Or so it seems compared to other people I see and how they are with their children. We keep them within our sight or check on them regularly at all times and places. My 5 year old turns the corner of our street on his big wheel, and I can’t see him for a moment, so my mind races.  Anyway, I would venture to say that both of us are cautious people and this caution extends to our parenting. Is that terrible? After all, it seems that you hear about harm coming to children on the news on a regular basis.

You know that Kelly Clarkson song (yes, I am quoting a Kelly Clarkson song. I am comfortable with that – sort of. “Those aren’t pillows. How about those Bears?”… Plains Trains and Automobiles.) “Because of You”? In the song, the protagonist talks about how she is afraid of straying to far from the sidewalk – which I interpret as taking chances. The song seems to indicate that her parents caused her to behave this way and filled her with fear.

So, maybe my wife and I should be more free with the children. I want them to be able to make decisions on their own and feel like they have done their best even when things don’t work out as they wish. I remember I had this line I used to use: I want my children to feel confident enough in themselves that they can ask for help when it is needed.

A few months back I wrote about an occasion when I sent my 8 year old on an errand. He got lost for a bit, and it scared the hell out of me. Naturally, this experience has made me more cautious with him. He is not ready for such independence. I just don’t want to miss the boat and hold him back. I know I have to let my children fall and give them space. This is the only way they will really grow. However, letting go seems harder than holding on.

As parents, I know we are sending our kids to the psychologist’s sofa (‘tell me about your mother’). However, my concern is to not screw them up too badly and for them recognize that they are loved.

20 thoughts on “Holding On

  1. This is a difficult thing to figure out. But I always err on the side of caution. Safety is my number one priority, and there are a lot of things that would have a profound impact–worse then sheltering them. They have plenty of time to grow up and become independent. I’d rather be a little bit late then a little bit early. Great post!

      • I’ve always known from the time Max was born I was more watchful than others-I didn’t see it as a problem really, I just choped it up to well, I watch my kid better than you watch yours and that’s why mine wont be on the 6pm news. But, just recently my mom said, “honey you do know that it is us that make our children fearfull and full of anxiety right- in our attempt to shield and protect we push our fears off on them they in turn develope anxiety.” I’ll give it to her, she could be on to something, but then again so could we. lol

        • Thanks for that help mom – I didn’t have enough to worry about.
          Seriously, it’s such a delicate balance. I wish I had the right answer. I think we have to pay attention to each particular child’s specific needs. I also think we have to recognize who we are. As I said, my wife and I tend to be on the cautious side.

  2. Heavy stuff right there. I too err on the side of caution and get twitchy if my boys are out of my eyesight for any length of time while we are out and about. I tried to be casual about the “stranger danger” talk but they kept asking so many question and the hair splitting about who was a strange and when was it ok to talk to them just got out of hand. I know I am over protective and I remember hating my parents for being so smothering when I was a child, but you are right – it is harder to let go than hold on. I guess just love, learn, and let go little by little.

  3. I feel like my kids may get a later start on their independence but that’s OK. First I give them the skills they need and give them independence a bit at a time when they’re ready. That’s what parenting is to me. I can’t just let them loose now. They’ll learn what they need to know. But also, I do try to make sure I’m not the one holding them back. My son is 9 and he’s at an age where I need to start to let go some. It’s very tricky, but I try to remember what I was capable of at that age. We try to find a balance.

  4. I found the hardest thing to do was to let my son make mistakes…I believe it is only right that he deserves independence however draw the line with things I know are potentially hazardous – an example is I always make him wear a cycle helmet despite his peers being a bit more carefree with their personal safety. We have had many arguments about this but I stick to my own principles that as a parent I am morally responsible for risk assessing the world on his behalf up and to the point he leaves home (even then I will still continue but it will be harder to ground him for disobeying my requests !)

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