Last Saturday, My 12 year old daughter asked if her and her friend could ride their bikes around town for the day. They wanted to go to Dairy Queen for lunch, then they wanted to ride to the dollar store, target and caribou after that..which are all a couple miles of our house. I was hesitant… she is obviously old enough for this independence but it scared me a little to let her go.
I grew up riding my bike from my house to my best friend’s house in the summer.. we did not have cellphones nor did we check in. I would leave for her house in the morning and not return until dark. I did not check in from stop to stop, I was gone for hours and had no communication with my parents. My parents did not know my every move and nor did they hunt me down to ask. I guess they trusted me and knew where to find me, if I was needed. This is what we did growing up in the 80s.
I know things are different growing up today with all the technology and all the apps. My kids do not ride their bikes much and they constantly rely on me as their chauffeur. Or maybe its just mine don’t ride their bikes much… I questioned if she even knew the rules of riding a bike. This was a moment of independence for my daughter and trust. She had not asked to do this before, so I knew she was gaining more independence and growing up. I also knew I could get a hold of her at any moment because of her cellphone, but I wanted her to figure this out. I wanted her to be responsible. Not feel like she had to constantly check in from place to place. I wanted her to make some decisions on her own. If she took the wrong road, I wanted her to be able to figure out how to get back on track. However, I am sure she would just ask google.
So, I let her go. They were gone 5 hours. I know that seems like a long time, but my daughter is very pokey and moves very cautiously in everything. They had a blast and I think we both learned something. I learned that I needed to give her more freedom to be independent and responsible for herself. I did not need to know her every move in the day. It was ok if she went without checking in constantly. I knew if she needed help or something happened that day she would call me. I did not tell her how to get to all the places she wanted to go that day, I left her figure out her path and route.
I feel like we just need to give our kids the opportunity to have some space and not hover over them so much. They need the independence to grow and learn as much as adults. And honestly, I get annoyed at times by the amount of texts my kids send me. I still worry as much as every other parent about their kids, however I just want to give them the opportunity to have some freedom and be responsible for themselves.
Just a mom of 3 trying to survive….