Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Last Friday night, my husband and I took our 12-year-old son out for ice cream. We were waiting in line and suddenly, his face turned red and he bolted out of the store. We chased after him and, with tears in his eyes, he told us he saw a pack of classmates come in and he was embarrassed to be with us. He then said he feels like we treat him like a baby and he wants to be dropped off at the mall like the other kids. I'm not sure he's quite ready for this, but how do I know for sure? I don't want to be overprotective, either.
Free Range Parenting is Not For Me
Dear Free Range Parenting is Not For Me,
Your question just gave me a flashback to a time when my dad would try to drop me off in front of my school with his Art Garfunkel hairdo. I insisted he say goodbye two blocks away.
Or the time my mom asked me if I wanted to go see a movie with her. In the same town as people I actually knew. I mean, maybe if we were traveling abroad. But in our town?! I'd rather not see Top Gun at all.
Parents are very very uncool. And now, we are the parents. So sadly, it's pretty normal that your son bolted from that ice cream store like it was infested with vermin. (I swear I'm not saying you are the vermin in this scenario.)
I don't think there is any perfect age or "aha" moment when we suddenly release our children into the wilderness and know we have given them all the skills to survive. I think it's a series of baby steps—letting go little by little.
If he wants to be at the mall himself, how about letting him roam free for an hour while you are at the mall Starbucks? And tell him to change "mom" in his phone to "Rita" so when you text him at 20 minute intervals, it won't be so obvious to his friends.
Yes, we want to protect our children forever. But if we never give them any freedom, they might actually live in our basements for the rest of their lives. And that's not a great solution either.
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