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Well, I’ll be a Mo’ Bettuh Mommy!

January 2, 2010

I recently wrote about saying goodbye to my Helicopter Mom days.  So in the spirit of welcoming in 2010 (where the heck did the first decade of the new millenium go, anyway?) I’ve decided to make a New Year’s resolution.  (AhemI hereby resolve to allow my kids the freedom they need to develop self-sufficiency and confidence.  Even if it kills me.

I actually was pushed into making the first move a few months ago when I broke my ankle.  Prior to that, I always walked my son to school.  With a cast on my right leg, walking and driving were out of the question.  I had been contemplating letting him walk to school on his own for a while, but despite my good intentions it took a fractured tibia to decide the matter for me.  He’s now ridden his bike to school – on his own and without incident – for three months.  Although I miss our morning time together, he loves it, it frees up my schedule by twenty precious minutes, and I have not been subjected to any more grouchy soliloquies on the cruelty of an existence where one’s parental unit forces one to walk to school while a perfectly good bike sits wasted and lonely in the garage.

Clearly it’s not going to be easy to relinquish all of my helicopter habits at once, so I’ve enlisted a few resources to help push me into a new phase of less-invasive mothering. 

The first is regular visits to one of my favorite parenting blogs, Free-Range Kids.  Founder Lenore Skenazy is a voice of reason in the parental paranoia wilderness, and I appreciate the way she combines straightforward common sense with a wicked sense of humor. 

I don’t do well under pressure, so I prefer to be prepared ahead of time – even for unlikely situations.  That’s why my second support resource is one of this blog’s sponsors, Our Child Safe.  OCS is a handy website that has allowed me to prepare proactively for a number of emergency scenarios.  The secure online registry includes several recent pics of my kids plus a detailed description with their current height & weight (my guess was surprisingly inaccurate – it’s a good thing I checked!).  I also added my asthmatic son’s prescription medication info.  Now when he spends the weekend at Boy Scout camp, his up-to-date medication details are instantly available to the camp nurse (or an emergency room doctor).  In short, should something happen to one of the kids, I’m prepared to get the info law enforcement or medical personnel need into their hands – and their computers – within seconds.  All I have to do is provide my password.

Knowledge is power.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the exploding online teen social world my power is very limited, because I don’t know much about it other than what I’ve read.  Frankly, I’ve never had the time or energy to immerse myself in the world of MySpace or the language of texting (it was only very recently that I realized “LOL” does not mean “Lots of Laughs”) but according to expert Sue Scheff, that’s exactly what I need to do.  She lays out a simple plan in “Parenting Teens “virtual makeover” in 2010” and makes the very prescient point that unless you’re familiar with how teens are communicating, you have no way to monitor it.

I’m working on little things too, such as forcing the kids to ask their own questions when we’re in a store or restaurant; or to make their own calls for information, like whether or not the toy store they’re dying to visit will still be open at 6pm on a Friday night.  

Some of these steps are easier to follow through on than others.  But they all are starting to add up to a certain level of comfort for me, and that means more freedom for my kids.  The big, bad scary world doesn’t seem so big, bad or scary.  In fact, it seems pretty manageable.

Finishing up this post with a word count of over 650 (sorry) I think I’d better add one more resolution to the list:  edit, edit, edit!  (Or is that three more?)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Summer Embee permalink
    April 1, 2010 3:23 pm

    This was a nice post. My child is only 3, but is rapidly wanting more independence and freedom and I struggle daily with how to keep her safe but also allow her to grow up and make her own mistakes.

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