Friday, July 20, 2012

Risk Managment, a mother's feelings

Today I woke up to hear about the horrible shooting that happened in a movie theater last night.
 A movie theater.
 A place where people frequent and where people let their children frequent and where people feel safe.

This horrible incident called to mind the struggle I've been having lately with my emotions in regards to letting my kids do things on their own.
Little teeny things.
Things like walking ahead of me on our walk, or playing outside in our backyard unsupervised, or being babysat by someone who isn't a family member. Yes, I'm one of THOSE mom's. Call me overprotective or crazy, whatever you'd like, I love having my babies close and have a hard time letting go, even for the little things.
 It seems there was an article placed in a magazine I read frequently just for me this month. It's about letting your child handle more freedom (when you put it that way, it doesn't sound so hard does it?) The author talks about how she lets her kids wander and explore a lot on their own, but that their family is in a tiny minority, saying "today most kids' lives are monitored 24/7, and independent wanderings exist only in the pages of Little House on the Prairie." She cites an experience in Mississippi a few years back where a 10-year-old boy walking by himself to soccer practice incited anxious phone calls to 911 from a few mothers driving by.

The author goes on to say that hallmarks of relaxed parenting are disappearing, like paper routes. Now you have to be 18 to have a paper route, and you drive. Not too many years ago, the paper routes were ridden on bikes by young boys and girls. "There's this myth that we can prevent anything bad, from disappointment to death, if we only watch our children more carefully." I'm not going to lie, I hold on to that myth. I KNOW it's a myth, that things will happen, but I still hold on to it. (Crazy mom)

A few great points from the article that have helped me WANT to let my kids have a teeny tiny bit more freedom (I said WANT....not that it's happening yet.....)
  • Unmonitored friend time, even if it's rowdy and chaotic, is a vital part of childhood (Stuart Brown, M.D., founder of the National Institute for Play)
  • Kids start to know themselves and how they relate to others by having unmonitored friend time.
  • Kids gain real in-the-moment experience figuring out how to manage life when they are faced with unexpected situations (like losing their money etc) and this is the single most important skill a kid can have.
  • Patty Wetterling, who helped launched the AMBER alert system after her son was abducted in 1999 says that "kids should be walking around smart, not scared."
  • Overprotecting children keeps them from experiencing and resolving disappointment and failure (Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., professor of Psychology)
  • "Kids who don't learn to handle frustration become fearful. They're the teenagers who won't try new extracurricular activities. When they arrive at college, they retreat to their rooms and play video games rather than going out and connecting with others." (Bernardo J. Carducci Ph.D.)
  • Overinvolved parents are often addressing their own need for closeness rather than giving kids the space they need.
  • Being a supportive parent, in other words, can't always mean doing what's comfortable. It's also about bearing the anxiety and consequences that occur when your child strikes out for new territories.
To sum it all up, if parents encourage free-spiritedness, children will show us just how creative and resourceful they are.
And I'd love to have children that are creative and resourceful.

This morning when I posted on facebook about the horror that happened last night in Colorado and how it makes me want to keep my kids even closer, a friend of mine (who had the agonizing experience of losing a son a few years ago, he was also a friend of mine) made a very wise comment that I'd like to close with. She said "I know how you feel but I also have learned that although we can't protect them, Heavenly Father is watching over them. Even when things do happen He is in charge and it will be okay. Not that I'm downplaying the tragedy. I know how hard it is but I've also learned that faith gets you through it."

Faith gets you through it. And I'm leaning on that faith to get me through raising these sweet children of mine and to be able to let them grow and be free-spirits and learn in this world. 

Thanks for stopping by. My apologies for the length (and mainly serious nature) of this post. I'd love to hear your comments, feel free to share your experiences of how you coped with giving your children more room to grow.

(and if you'd like to read the article I referenced, you can find it in the July issue of Family Circle titled "Risk Management" by Elizabeth Foy Larsen)


  1. from the "helicopter Mom"  this is very, very hard but so very needed!  I know you will do what needs to be done in a loving know...I struggle with this myself.  You will know when its time for you and the kids  :)

  2. Justin and Katie BishopJuly 20, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    So far I think my problem is being too free-spirited. Ha! I'm sure it will change as Shane gets older. The world is a scary place and it keeps getting scarier. You are an awesome mom and you will always do what's right. I don't have enough experience to share any words of wisdom since I'm pretty new and dumb in this area :) Love you! You are awesome and your whole family knows it

  3. Watching you and your sisters with you little ones brings me so much joy!  You are all fabulous mothers and I am so very proud of you and very blessed to be your mother!  I love you girls of mine!!


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