Monday, April 27, 2009

Mothering? Or Smothering?

As my little babies turn, gradually, into little girls, my helicopter parenting skillz are apparent. They've always been exaggerated. We got to the part of the bike trail that overlooks a lovely, but roaring creek and I cringed telling them not to climb on the very large, very high metal fence. A foot could get stuck. They might fit through the two-inch slats. What if they do fall? They'll drown in the knee-deep water. (It was easily a 20-foot drop, by the way).

Part of the problem, I know, is that I was a news reporter. I wrote about a 14-year-old girl that was sucked under by an Amtrak train and killed. I wrote about the 4-year-old boy who was sucked down by a swollen creek after a hard rain. I interviewed many families who lost loved ones who were shot, stabbed, drowned, pushed down to their death and, yes, abused.

It's no wonder that I'm smothering. Or circling. Or hovering. Or standing too close. I've seen death at too many doors.

But, I'm trying. Always, always trying.

This week's inspiration will take you to two links: The Washington Post column I just read, and the author's blog as well.

It's a very good discussion. Makes me want to let my girls roam -- to the fenced backyard by themselves (while I watch from a window).

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5 comments:

Threeundertwo said...

Excellent links. I'm going to have to read more of that author's blog.

I think there is a balance. I'm all for free-range kids, and I was one myself. I look back at all that independence in wonder now. But I cringe at the opposite mentality - "when you have kids, you end up in the emergency room a lot." I don't think there should be any reason for kids to be expected to end up in ERs. Those parents are not parenting enough.

You'll meet them as your kids get older; the little boy who was jumping on the couch and fell and broke his arm. I always want to say "where were you and why were you letting him jump on the couch?" to the parents. It's our job to keep them safe.

Smothering/mothering is also what led me to do a 180 on the subject of cell phones. Once I read that story about the 12 year old who texted her mother from under the covers when intruders entered their house, I realized that cell phones aren't an expensive toy, they can be a lifeline. All 3 of my kids have them now.

Shannon said...

I struggle with this balance. That's a great article and I do agree that independence equals confidence. I even envy people that can give their children that kind of freedom without it inducing a panic attack. The thing is, is it only takes once. One thing, one instant, one accident to change their life forever. I just couldn't live with myself if I know I could have prevented something just by being there, keeping an eye out for things that they don't know to look for yet.

Then again, I do have a problem with always imagining the worst and I don't want to inflict that on them.

Where's the line?

Candace said...

My husband & I are very different where this is concerned. I am more of a free range parent and him over protective. I let our 3.5 year old daughter play outside in our privacy fenced, locked back yard by herself. I leave the back door open and am usually in the kitchen keeping an eye on her but he freaks out if he hears about it. I let her ride her bike in the front yard making sure she knows how far down the driveway she can go. I stay out there with her because we are on a fairly busy street and I don't want to put her in danger. Chris freaks if she rides in the driveway because she might ride in the road. He doesn't realize that I have been teaching her limits and rules. He hears me but he doesn't "hear" me ya know.

Anna is very much a Mama's girl and I have a hard time getting her unattached so I am doing what I can to teach her independence. Knowing that the more independence she learns, the more confidence she will have and the more prepared she will be for life.

RocketMom Cheryl said...

just saw this. very interesting. thanks!

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