Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Rules

             As my kids head back to school tomorrow morning, I’ve been reflecting on all of the parenting expectation I had before I had kids. In my perfect little fantasy world I would be firm but fair and my children, recognizing this fact, would be angels.  The would certainly never be exposed to junk food…

            …or video games.

            My family would always eat nutritious, homemade meals…

            and our vacations would all be educational.

            But parenting is much less black and white than I ever realized. And sometimes a quick call for a take-out pizza or a half hour in front of the television can save Mommy’s sanity.
            Lately I’ve had the chance to observe thousands of new college students converging on the Boston area. Some of them are ready to live on their own. They know what they need and how to get it. And some… well let’s just say it’s difficult to picture some of these kids living and thriving on their own.  My greatest wish for my children is to give them the tools they need to become independent.
            Sometimes it’s hard to let kids do things for themselves. We’re constantly saying we'd do anything for our children. And let’s face it, there are times when it’s easier to do the task yourself. But maybe we’re doing our children a disservice by not letting them do things for themselves—even if it means a few small failures along the way.
I want to know when we drop Owen off at college in eight years (shudder!), he’ll know not to wash his white socks with his new red sweatshirt. I want him to know that it will take him two hours in his work-study job to earn enough for that pizza he’s craving (and sometimes it’s worth it). I want him to believe that if a piece of furniture needs to be assembled, he can do it. I want him to know he can call us whenever he needs to, but I hope he’ll always try to solve his own problems first.
This parenting thing is a balancing act between providing for our children and giving them the tools to provide for themselves. I have a few new rules for myself these days. I hope I can stick to them.