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February 9, 2015

Taking Off our Parenting Training Wheels.

who-needs-training-wheels

What do you do when your child wants to progress faster than you are ready for?

“Mom, I want to start a blog. Can you help me set it up?” 

“Not right now. I’m busy. Ask me later”

~ the next day ~

“Mom? I really want to start a blog. Please?”

This is a snippet of a conversation that took place between my 12 year old son and I over the course of 3-4 weeks (it was a good run—I procrastinated as long as I could).

During this time, I carried on an internal debate:

The Protective Mama Bear in me is deathly afraid of trolls and stalkers and perverts and predators and doesn’t want my baby putting himself “out there” online, for anyone to see.

On the other hand, he is inspired, and who am I to quell his inspiration and desire to create? Do I want my son looking back on his life and saying, “My mom told me I couldn’t,” or saying, “My mom told me I could”?

The latter, of course!

As parents, we all wear training wheels.

After our babies are born, the kind folks at the hospital say “congratulations,” and they pack us up and send us home with our few-day-old baby. At most, our preparation is limited to some parenting classes about how to breastfeed, and infant CPR in case they choke. Some parents read baby books. I read all about pregnancy and some about how to take care of a newborn, but I found that most of the books contradict each other.

Frankly, nothing prepared me for the moment of panic that I experienced when it was time to go to bed that first night. There I was, holding this little helpless person, looking at him without a clue what to do, seeing him looking up at me, trusting that I knew what I was doing.

I looked into his eyes, and promised him that I would always keep him safe.

Thus, the parenting conundrum.

We work very hard to keep our children safe from harm. If they fall, we kiss their boo-boos, or bandage their cuts and scrapes. If their feelings are hurt, we hug them and tell them all will be okay. If they are bullied in school, we notify the appropriate authorities.

We are there to take care of them.

But to grow as humans, they need to learn to do these things for themselves.

We need to take off our parent training wheels so that they can take off their own.

For more and more moments at a time, I do take mine off, and trust that my children will be okay.

And they are.

We both need to stretch and grow and take new risks and learn new things.

So with a sigh, I finally gave in and let my son start his blog. In the week since he started it, he’s posted four articles. More importantly, he is standing taller, and is more confident and inspired. So much so, that he is brimming with more ideas. He asked to learn to knit this weekend so that he can make hats and scarves to raise money to buy his own computer so he can design video games.

And what’s happened to my fear of trolls and stalkers and perverts? To be honest, it’s still there. But I have to trust that my son can handle what comes. And if he can’t? I’m here to take care of them for him.

No one’s gonna mess with this Mama Bear’s cubs.

 

Update: Here’s his first post at elephant journal, Building Confidence in 5 Steps.

~

Relephant:

How to be a Badass Mother

 

Author:  Kendra Hackett

Editor:  Travis May

Photos:  Flickr

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