This goes out to all the parents who have children who are at least 30+ years old. Many of whom are grandparents now. I have a lot of questions to ask you.
How did you do it? How did you let us be independent? How did you not worry (or at least seem not to worry)? How did you take a step back and let us not only fall, but even fail?
Wait, I have more.
Did you know when we were upset? Did you know and just not ask? If so, why didn’t you ask?
You didn’t get involved in all the drama. Did you not know or did you know and you just didn’t want to get involved? Did you want us to figure it out on our own?
I joke with my mom about how I raised myself. I’m kind of kidding.
There were no cell phones. Did you worry about that? Were you wondering where we were, because I’m going to tell you right now, we probably weren’t where we told you we were going.
I’m not sure about everyone else’s experience, but I didn’t have the amount of conversations with my parents that I do with my children. My parents weren’t all about explaining “their why,” meaning, why they made certain decisions. Their decisions were final and didn't require an explanation. My poor children have to listen to my why ALL.THE.TIME. I want them to understand my why, my reasoning for why I am making certain decisions. I want them to understand the lessons that I’m trying to teach them. I hardly believe they want to hear it.
I’m a very different parent than my parents and I’m struggling to figure out if that is a good or bad thing. Sometimes I wish their generation of parents paid more attention and sometimes I wish our generation could pay less.
I want to know everything with my kids. "Who did you play with today? What did you play? Why didn't they play with you? What did they say? Then what did you say?"
Did you not want to know everything? Why not?
OK, I still have more.
Were you concerned about our safety? No seriously, Mom and Dad, were you concerned when we ran away to the grove of trees behind the house for an entire day and finally came home when we figured no one even realized we were gone....Asking for a friend.
Were you concerned when we left the house for hours at a time, wandering the dirt roads, fields, haystacks, stick piles, frozen sewer ponds????
I’m guessing you all are going to say NO, am I right?
So again, how did you do it? How did you NOT worry AND…(with tail between my legs) would you be willing to teach me?
I thought that I was better than you at this parenting thing. I’m not so sure anymore. I’m trying really hard. Maybe too hard.
I’m still not done.
Where did it all change? When did we start worrying? At what point did we, as parents, begin to intervene so intensely? When did our society become such a scary place to raise children, because if I’m being honest, it really does feel scary. I fear for my children all the time.
I’m certain you worried. You had to, right? How were you able to keep it together? You didn't seem worried.
What did you worry about? Because nowadays, we worry about everything: social media, bullying, “Pill Parties,” sex trafficking. Not a day goes by that I don’t worry about things like that.
How did you roll with the punches when we did something that disappointed you? How did you not compare me or my siblings to other children the way we do today?
Please tell me, because I really want to know. I really want to know because now, the joke is on me. My kids are not raising themselves. They struggle to tie their own shoes.
I'm trying to make sense of this.
The only way that I can possibly make sense of this shift is to understand that the parental changes that have been made in the last 30 years haven’t been all bad. In fact, I might even argue that many have actually been really good.
I mean, this type of worrying has resulted in some positive changes like, I don’t know, car seat laws, perhaps? No more bean bags in the back of the ol’ Chevy Silverado Suburban, otherwise known in my family as “the Burb.”
Or perhaps, any other safety measures/parental interventions that were generally ignored 30+ years ago, such as an old pickup hood used as a sled, attached to a 4-wheeler with a rope, speeding around in dark, snowy conditions. Yes, that happened and I’ll spare you the gory details.
The world is a very different place and we as parents are now doing our best to navigate it, but we need your help.
So my final question….how do we have the best of both worlds? How do we raise children with skills and resilience, but maybe with a little bit more supervision? ;) I know enough to know that I don’t know it all and I’m ready to learn. It may have taken me until I am 40 to ask, but Mom, I need your help.
And maybe I can teach you a thing or two about the benefits of appropriately fitting car seats.