How much freedom and responsibility do you give your child?The other day, I let my son know in advance that I wouldn't be able to drive him and his friends to school, or pick them up after school, on an upcoming day. It was up to him to let the other boys know and make alternate arrangements. He made a few phone calls, and in no time had rides arranged. If he hadn't done this, then they could have walked to school, as they do in the fall and spring.
Some moms couldn't believe that I wasn't on the phone myself, fussing over arrangements for my son. I'm sure some people would think I was bordering on neglectful. I wondered if I was being a bad mom?
My son is 13 and he is very capable. He can go into a store, ask a sales clerk for assistance, and make a purchase without me. He can make phone calls and inquire about what movie is playing at the theatre, what the price and availability is of something he is looking at buying, make arrangements for transportation for school when needed, and a lot more. If no one is home, he can let himself in to the house after school and get a snack. I know several kids his age who can not do any of things things – they have never been shown how or allowed to do these things for themselves.
I then started thinking of years before when high school grads were coming into my store to rent tuxedos. Often, they were accompanied by their mothers. When I would ask some of these young men a question, their mother would either answer right away, not giving their son a chance to answer, or the young man would look to his mom for an answer. I wanted to say "Excuse me, I asked your son the question, not you", but that would not have been polite. I wanted to say, "What will he do when he has to go out in the world on his own? Will he be able to answer questions for himself?", but I guess that wouldn't be polite either.
Is my son exceptionally brilliant? Are these other kids dumb?
When I thought about it some more, I decided I was in fact being a great mom! I am teaching my son how to look after himself. I am teaching him basic life skills. I am encouraging him and letting him take some responsibility for his own life.
Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing?
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