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Childrearing

You Can’t Keep Your Kids In A Bubble Just Because You’re An Anxious Parent

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You Can t Keep Your Kids In A Bubble Just Because You re An Anxious Parent happy kids running in field 280x186 jpgNo one wants to be that crazy helicopter mom, but there are times when you just can’t help it. For me, those times are pretty much whenever my kid is out of my sight. They say it takes a village to raise a happy, healthy child, and they’re absolutely right, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to let the village step in and lend a helping hand.

My daughter was three weeks old the first time I left her in someone else’s care. From infancy through most of her toddlerhood, until we moved across the country, she stayed with one of her grandparents every Friday night so my husband and I could have a weekly date night. I was nervous at first and left the sort of long-winded instructions most people would ridicule, but eventually I got used to the thought that she was doing okay.

Now she’s older and outings with friends and family are the norm. You’d think I’d be used to it after so many times, but you’d be wrong. Even though I love and trust our inner circle completely, I still feel a rush of nervous energy every single time she goes somewhere without me and secretly wonder if it’d be possible to tattoo my name and phone number on her face without ruining her future job prospects.

The thing I’m learning is that our silly fears and worries never disappear. No matter how smart, independent, or grown up kids get, there’s always that little part of you that wishes you could swaddle them up in bubble wrap and guide them through the world hand-in-hand. Your task as a parent is to weigh the risks and the benefits and to make decisions in their best interest, rather than based on your own irrational fears. Letting them experience life and become independent is very much in their best interests.

I never realized as a child, or even as a young adult, how difficult it must have been for my mom sometimes. I went on a week long “wilderness retreat” in fourth grade, attended a two-week theater camp in New York City at 15, traveled around Europe independently at 21, and moved to South Korea when I was 22. I’m sure none of those things were easy for my mom, but she never let on how truly worried she probably was.

Parenting is a slow process of letting go, and I don’t think you ever do completely. You’ll always want what’s best for your kids and worry about them, even when they’re long past the age where they’re able to make their own decisions. The important thing is that you give them the tools to go it alone and that you don’t let your own anxieties stifle them. Coddling them might feel good, but at the end of the day you have to let them grow.

(Photo: SerrNovik / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

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