An hour ago, I dropped our teenage boy off at our church where he along with nearly 30 other middle-schoolers will be taking a trip to Terry Peaks, a ski resort in South Dakota. It’s the first long trip he’s taking without at least one of his parents going with.
I’m a bit saddened by it, although I’m also excited for him. I know he’ll have a great time. But as a mom, sometimes my first instinct is to protect that little boy I gave birth to. How can I continue to do that if he’s two hundred miles away?
Yet that’s not my job, at least not anymore. Sure when he was little, I needed to make sure he didn’t come to harm. But that’s not my only job. It’s also to teach him to be self-reliant, independent. To teach him how to protect and provide for himself when he becomes an adult in only four short years (!). To show him through mine and his father’s actions how to protect and provide for his own family when he gets married and has children (hopefully).
Anything less I see as abuse. Strong words, I know, but that’s how I see it. The main reason is because his parents have far fewer years left on this planet than he does (again, hopefully). Once we’re gone, he’s literally on his own. If we don’t prepare him, he’ll never be successful, and he can never protect and provide for himself or his future family.
I’ve seen too many adults whose parents didn’t let them take wing and fly, fearing so much they’d instead crash on the ground. Helicopter parenting is one phrase people use. It’s a real struggle for them to deal with even the simplest things life throws at them.
I already miss my son, and am trying not to think of the days when I’ll see him less and less, first after he gets his drivers license and then starts building his own life once he graduates high school. Yet I am also proud of him. Proud that he’s willing to leave his parents to take a trip two hundred miles away.