#MomLife: When is it OK to let go?

I’ve been struggling with this question for a while now. When is it OK to let go? I may not like it but my children are growing up. And I feel like every day I’m thrown into new situations where I am constantly asking myself questions. When is it time to start giving your child more freedom? How do I start allowing my children to make decisions for themselves without worrying that they are making the right or wrong decision? At which age is it appropriate to allow my daughter to go for a walk by herself? 

Am I the only one who struggles with this?

Why am I so afraid to let them go? Why am I scared to even think about letting my 13-year-old leave the house by herself and walk down the street? Am I a helicopter mom? I’d like to think that I am not what some call a “copter mom” but let’s be real, I’m a textbook helicopter mom. I’m afraid of everything. I don’t like not knowing what my children are doing at all times. I don’t like not knowing where they are. I don’t like thinking of what could happen “if (insert worst case scenario here).” Am I depriving them of some childhood rites of passage? 

This past summer I finally started letting my daughter stay home by herself. I would be lying if I said I don’t think of every possible thing that could go wrong before I leave the house though. When does protecting them too much start to hinder their growth process? Has worry and fear taken over my life? Am I putting my child’s happiness in a bottle and locking it up until they are old enough to move out of the house? Am I taking away their ability to become risk takers or confidant adventurers all because I let my fear and worry take over my life? I think the answer is yes, at least a little bit. 

I think it is time that I start to let go a little. But I don’t know how. I don’t know when the proper time is to start to let go. Am I too late? Have they gotten stuck in the helicopter and I can’t unlock the door anymore? I want my children to have ownership of themselves. I want them to feel like I trust them to make choices and to protect themselves but it’s hard to do that when I don’t feel like I can protect myself. Do I watch too much crime television? Yes. Do I read too much? Yes. Do I need to calm down a bit and get my fears under control? Yes. Do I need to let go and let them show me they can be responsible children who are learning the way to become responsible adults? Yes. 

Life isn’t supposed to be like this. We aren’t programmed to be scared all of the time. We are supposed to explore and have adventures. We need to be teaching our children how to be independent rather than keeping them inside all day because the boogie monster might catch them. But I do think we need to have some boundaries. Just maybe less boundaries than what I have set for my children. I think this year I am going to work more on letting go of some of the helicopter tendencies I have. I’m aware it will not happen overnight, and I will struggle with this. But I want to make sure that I am not depriving my children of their independence.

I can’t say that I will immediately let my daughter take that walk around the block anytime soon, but maybe I will let her go outside to hangout by herself without having to be outside with her the whole time. Maybe my son can stay with his sister when I run to the store and maybe, just maybe, I can get a little relief of the fear and worry that seems to encompass my brain when I think of letting go. 

Steph Hightree is a hot mess mom who is fueled by stress and too much caffeine. She is a Three Rivers native who talks about the good, the bad, and well, everything else about parenthood.

Any views or opinions expressed in “#MomLife” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.