Being a parent comes with an entire list of responsibilities, recommendations, do’s and don’ts…the advice from others goes on for days. I’ve personally been a mother for ten years now. Never once did anyone give me advice for the challenges that society deals with on a daily basis. I never imagined my kids would grow up in the world we live in now. Every time I turn on the television or log onto social media, it seems another child is missing, a woman has been assaulted or stalked, and kids are bringing guns to school.
How do we prepare our kids for this?
My husband and I find ourselves having conversations with our bigger kids almost daily regarding their safety. We instruct them on what to do if an emergency were to occur, or how to react if a suspicious person approached them. Sometimes our conversations seem to carry on for hours. As their parents, it feels like we can never say or do enough to keep them safe.
However, all of this made me step back and think;
Are we being too overbearing?
Am I stealing away their childhood by being upfront about the scary world we live in?
Do I want them to grow up being terrified to leave the house?
It turns out, no matter how hard I try, these kids are going to grow up. They will graduate from high school and go on to college. One thinks he will head out East and attend MIT. The other has mentioned southern schools, preferably near a beach. They will be out of our home and out of my radius. While my heart aches to think of them leaving, it is also our job to make sure they are prepared for the world.
We’ve said no to cell phones and social media for our children because we want them to learn how to communicate in person. Ordering their own meals at a restaurant, handling a problem with a friend, and communicating with coaches are some ways that we “push” them to grow. They have to learn that we will not always be around to solve a problem or to be their voice. While I would love to fight every battle for them, it’s not realistic and I must allow their independence to expand.
I’ve been told several times that “so and so” get to do so much more than my kids do. Their classmates are being dropped off at the mall, running the neighborhood, have cell phones, etc. Am I a mean mom for saying no to these things? Maybe. Do I care? Absolutely not. At ten years old, they are still kids and we treat them that way. Soliciting stores at the mall or Target gives these alleged predators a front row ticket to snatch them. Roaming the neighborhood does the same, but with easier access to cars. Does it make us overprotective or helicopter parents? Nope. Just doing our best to protect our kids and keep them out of trouble.
Being Honest…to an extent.
Between my husband’s career and open communication with our kids, they are very aware of the world we live in. They know children are missing from our community, and that kids across the country have brought guns into their classrooms. We try our best to be upfront with them so that they can face the world for what it is. Do we still sugarcoat some things? Absolutely. They’re only ten. I want my kids to be vigilant, and I want them to stand up for kids who cannot stand up for themselves. I want them to need me, but be able to take care of themselves if I’m not there. I’m going to give them the information that is necessary for them to grow and withhold what might be a bit too graphic.
The world is a scary place, and every time you turn around there’s another story being shared about a traumatizing event. While I cannot control everything my children will face in life, I can give them the tools to prepare them the best way I know how. They might look over their shoulders a bit more than a typical kid, and possibly miss out on the hot parties in fifth grade.
While letting them go is the last thing on my mind, I will allow them to grow so they are ready when the time comes.
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