Hillary Chybinski: from the Mommyhood. . .when is the right age to let go?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

from the Mommyhood. . .when is the right age to let go?

Do you ever struggle with knowing when is the "right" age to let your kids do something?  Once you get past the age of three, there's no book "What to Expect From Your Tween" - giving you a month by month account of what should be happening and how to deal with it.

Some days I really wish there was.

I remember when I had to let Ryan start using the restroom (the MEN"S ROOM no less!) on his own. . .I was petrified that there would be some scary man in there waiting to prey on unsuspecting boys abandoned by their over-protective mothers.  So far, so good.  But honestly, I worry about it.

When is your tween old enough to stay home by themselves for brief periods (not a week or overnight)?  We are working on this. . .setting up lot of rules and reminders.

When can you child take money and get a refreshment on their own at the movies? (We tried this over the weekend, it didn't go well, but a good first attempt)

When can your child go 2 blocks to the store by themselves? (In our house - not yet).

When can they walk to the bus by themselves? (We are slowly working on this.  Again, with lots of rules and a watchful mom at the front window.)

When can your child go to the park down the street on their own with a friend? (Again, at our house not yet)

(can you hear the helicopter sounds?)

I try so hard not to be a helicopter parent.  It is my belief that doing too much for our children weakens them and makes them less able to cope in the "real world".  We need to help them develop the skills, awareness and judgement they need to make good decisions. (or at least sound decisions)  But I have an overwhelming need to protect my kids from the scary mean world. . .it's a delicate balance.

How are you navigating this?


  1. I felt so badly when he fell the other day after making the big step to go out on his own!!
    And I have no idea either in answer to many of your questions. Nate (8) still comes with me into the restroom in most places if DH isn't around. DH thinks it's totally inappropriate but it's not that I don't trust Nate but I DO NOT TRUST the scaries that could be in the bathroom!! I know it's probably crazy.

    Certain places, I'll let him go (if it's only one bathroom, I can stand right outside, etc)

    And I also don't let him do the bus alone at either end. The stop is down around the corner so I can't see and again, it's not an issue of not trusting him but rather not trusting strangers.

    On the flip side, I am trying to find opportunities where he can assert some more independence... it's definitely a fine line!

  2. Because I have two, The Boy has more freedom at this age than The Teen did. I try not to hover, but I made it a point to know the cashiers at Wawa (our local store) and for both my husband and I to be visible so other children know he has backup. I check with parents about their homes and explain the rules and expectations of mine. I have been known to enter a men's room if I feel like he's taking too long.

  3. This terrifies me! I going to be the mom that follows him to the movies and crouches in a seat hoping that he does not see me there!

  4. This topic terrifies me. With a 3 and 1 year old, the answer is NOT YET. But as a fellow potential helicopter parent I do want them to strike out on their own-- just not before they are prepared to handle it.

    If it makes you feel better, I grew up in a fairly strict home with almost no freedom to go out on my own, so college was the age my parents let go. You know what? I turned out okay. I had fun but didn't go buckwild in college. I even lived 8 states away from them, on my own, until I got married and moved a little bit closer. It all works out in the end. ;-)

  5. Ha, just read Jessica's comment. I see we will both be terrified together.