Fredericksburg Parent

August 2017

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32 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • August 2017 I'm a safety mom. A safety person, in fact. In life, as on a ski slope, I continually fi nd myself helplessly speeding downhill trying to keep up with my tweens, while silently screaming, "Watch out for the trees!" Releasing control doesn't come naturally for most, and for me personally, the learning curve for parenting tweens-to-teens has been steeper than I'd expected. I want my kids to mature into independent young adults who can make wise choices on their own. That is probably pretty close to what you want, too. Implicit in this desired end result is that along the way, parents must let go. Helicopter parenting will only hold children back. Once, on a road trip, our then-sassy pre- schooler lashed out from the backseat, asking for a new family, new parents. She had aspirations we couldn't meet, and she was moving on. So we swung into the nearest gas station, and pointing to a minivan overfl owing with a large family at the next pump, told her to go ahead, give it a try. Her exasperation with us evaporated when we gave our consent for her to pursue her dreams. We called her bluff; naturally, she wasn't ready to make decisions for herself. At 4, free choice was an illusion. Not so today. Releasing teens to make decisions helps teach lifelong lessons early about taking responsibility for their actions. In practice, though, I've found my convictions tested. Schoolwork used to be a big power struggle around our home. It was an area where I heard myself offering nonstop directives and reminders. By sixth grade, it was time for me to back off and allow my kids to experience the thrill of merited success in school with limited parental intervention. By the time the tween years were upon us, I felt that overseeing assignment deadlines would enable dependence and laziness. I knew a hands-off approach was the right one, but it still pained me when they innocently forgot their homework and received a lower grade. What Happened When I Quit And Let My Kids Choose Their Own Path "Releasing control doesn't come naturally for most...." HELICOPTER PARENTING "...when I coddle, I hurt them."

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