Family Life


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

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”

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

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 or follow her on Twitter @raisingdavis.

Originally published in ParetntsCanada magazine, October 2013.

a man carrying two children

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