Time to give our kids more independence…..
Posted on 2nd October 2017
A memory about our kid’s independence popped up on my Facebook today of this article that was published in The Echo Newspaper three years ago. I had written it as I sat in my dining room window watching my younger daughter walk to school on her own for the first time. She had been asking for ages and I knew that it was time to learn to give her more responsibility. I do not have a link to the published article but have loaded the text below so that you can read it.
The irony, re reading this today, is that so much has changed again for us in those intervening years. But that is family life just as you get on top of one thing another new stress pops up.
Thank goodness for green tea and Prosecco!!!!
Everything Is Changing…….It Must Be The Start Of The Autumn Term
So the kids are back to school and families across the nation have turned their attention to the inevitable changes that are occurring in nearly every house in nearly every street in the country.Whether it is starting preschool, infant, primary, secondary, sixth form or university we parents have to accept that time is marching on and the routine with which we had become accustomed last year has been exchanged for a new and more complex one.
‘Mum when can I start walking to school on my own?’ Such an innocuous few words guaranteed to strike terror into the most experienced of parents and in my view this is the first real sign that our kids are craving their independence.
In our house my ten year old daughter has reached Year Six. This is the pinnacle of her primary education and one that her friends have hankered after for many years. Over the summer break she seems to have morphed into a teenager or certainly has the aspirations of one. All those things that she has been nagging to be allowed to do are increasingly difficult to say no to.
‘Can I walk home from school? Can I go to the shops with my friends? and my personal favourite when can I get a Saturday job?’ This last one makes me so proud of her work ethic but I am sure there are laws forbidding child labour.
My normal responses of, ‘maybe in Year Six,’ or ‘let’s see what your friends are doing,’ will no longer stave off such demands. Whilst I am comfortable to relinquish some parental control I cannot and will not let go of all of it.
It does not matter if they have older siblings. This is by no means new territory for me but the crux of the matter is that every child is different and the timing of allowing them this first step of independence is crucial.
As I write this article my daughter has walked to school for the first time today. She did call for a friend who lives in our road and yes, if I am honest, I did take up my post in the bedroom window to watch them on the other side of the road well camouflaged by a strategically placed curtain. Did she glance over for reassurance or even to check if I was watching? Hell no! They were probably chatting about their new found freedom or something equally as important to a ten year old.
It is now 10.40am and the school has not rung to check why she is absent so I must assume that they both arrived safely. I wonder what they were deep in discussion about on that monumental journey. What they had in their packed lunches, did they do the homework last night or who is dating who in the class. Oh no. Puberty, boys, kissing and having ‘the talk’. It is a minefield this parenting lark. No matter how many times we do it, it never gets any easier and we will always question our decisions. Before long the new routine will have become the old routine. Then we will need to face up to the fact that the next autumn term is just around the corner!