Raising Davis: How to let go when you need to let go

By Meghan Bradley on September 16, 2013
Davis has always wanted independence. He’s now eight, but wanted to dress himself and pick his own clothes at three. He has been showering himself since age six. He gets his own breakfast and needs little help with his homework. I love his desire to do things on his own but there are still times when I have trouble letting go.

I hover when he goes to a public men’s room. He’s been too old to come in the women’s with me for a few years now, but it still makes me nervous. I have been known to yell in to the men’s room if he is taking too long. “Davis, you okay?” Oh yeah, he just loves that!

Some of Davis’ friends ride their bikes to school by themselves and I am not ready to let him walk or ride to school on his own yet. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable with it for at least another year or so.

I never take my eyes off of him when he is playing in the park even though the parents around me are busy on their phones, or chatting with one another.

I keep Davis close when we are in a store and even closer at a fair or amusement park. I think the stories of missing children have done a number in my brain. The logical part of me knows that I need to give him more leeway but I struggle with the “what if” scenarios.

There are other things I have had to learn to get used to. Davis announced last Christmas that he is done having photos taken with Santa. He believes in Santa but just doesn’t want to have his picture taken with him. I had imagined a Santa album of pictures from the time he was three months old to at least 10. Davis looks older than eight and maybe the fact that his feet almost touched the ground when he last sat on Santa’s knee had something to do with it. I’ll have to be satisfied with a smaller album!

I guess the trade-off for being overprotective outside the home is that Davis is very independent within our home. He seems comfortable with the indoor/ outdoor dichotomy. I hope one balances out the other.

Expert Advice ~ Psychologist Sara Dimerman says:

We are our own worst critics. We often berate ourselves for holding our children too close. Even call ourselves names like “over protective” and “neurotic”. We are often even embarrassed when we see other parents appearing more relaxed, while we are still holding our child’s hand tight.

I say trust your intuition. Don’t rush to cut the invisible leash before your child is ready and able. There are many at-home and in-school opportunities for children to make decisions independent of you that will help develop confidence and life skills.

However, when it comes to issues around safety – such as walking or biking to school alone, or going into the washroom alone in a public setting – err on the side of caution.

As long as you regularly evaluate whether not letting go has more to do with you not being ready, versus your child’s ability to take on the responsibility, then you’re doing OK.

Meghan Bradley is a full-time sales rep and mother of Davis, 7, and step-mother to twins Madison and Mackenzy, 16.

To read more of Meghan’s Mommy Diaries, visit raisingdavis.com or follow her on Twitter @raisingdavis.

Originally published in ParetntsCanada magazine, October 2013.

By Meghan Bradley| September 16, 2013

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