Friday, July 02, 2010

When you get what you want

I wear a lot of metaphorical hats.  There's the writer hat, which is what I tend to feature most on this blog, and then there's the mom hat, which I talk about a bit.  If you know me, either in real or virtual life, you know I have 2 teenage boys.  As a parent, one of my goals is to raise confident, resourceful, independent kids.

I tend to give my guys quite a lot of responsibility and autonomy, within appropriate boundaries.  Though, I know those boundaries are very individual.  Some of my peers were appalled when I let my youngest fly across the country alone (not as an unaccompanied minor) when he was 12.  And he got stranded at the Denver Airport overnight. Shades of Victor Navorsky from the movie "The Terminal."

Yet, I was a stickler for not letting my kids see PG-13 movies when they were not yet 13, even as their peers were seeing R rated movies with their parents' blessings.  (I did make an exception for the Men in Black movies.)

Well, youngest is now 14 and on the verge of starting high school in the fall.  Last week, he went camping with a friend's family a few hours away. I was in the midst of a trip to help my elderly parents and was out of town, so I didn't really even know where they were camping.  Wasn't sure when they were coming home.

I didn't hear from him all week.

I wasn't worried.  I figured if he'd been eaten by bears, the mom would have called me.  I was a little miffed, however, that he didn't feel like he needed to touch base.

Then it hit me.

I want my kids to feel like they have it covered.  The fact that he felt comfortable to be away from home and not give me a second thought is the way it ought to be.

And he in fact, was not eaten by bears, but did get lost on a dusk hike with his friend and had to problem solve his way to the ranger station to find the camp site.  Which he did.

Oh, and he played with sharp objects (whittling wood) and set stuff (safely, in a fire pit) on fire.

And lived to tell the tale.


  1. My kids are all grown, and I still wonder what's going on...though I never, never tell them.

    My operating rule was that as long as their grades were good, they did their chores and kept our communication lines wide open, they could dress any way they wanted. It worked, sort of. First, I had to take the phrase "You did what?" out of my vocabulary so that the mistakes made by young adventures could be talked about and my experience could be accessed.

    Second, I silently suffered through various hair colors, pants with holes, strange and fearsome t-shirts, and hairstyles reminiscent of Native Americans. Fortunately my daughter was shy, so over-exposure was never an issue.

    It worked. They are all people I am proud to know.

  2. Yeah--the whole 'you did what' is counterproductive to keeping the lines of communication open.

    My rules are basically nothing permanent while they are under my roof. So no body art or piercings. Hair? I can live with bizarre hairstyles. Clothes? I can shake my head and move on.

    Nice to know I have kindred parenting souls out there. :)