The other day I was relating a GBN1 story to her mother. I mentioned that GBN1 and I were each in our own bathroom stall at Dillard’s. At this point in the story, my DIL was horrified that I had let GBN1 go into her own stall by herself. At the time, I didn’t think a thing about it, but since then the incident has provoked much thought. Jesse and I had a discussion last night on parental involvement that provoked even more thought.
On one level I wondered why that was a bad idea. Why was it not okay? Why did I not know it was a bad idea? Was it a bad thing to do? What part of my raising led me to this behavior? It made me think about how my mother raised me. It made me think about my two very different grandmothers – the neat, clean grandmother whom I was named for and the not-so-neat-clean grandmother that I am more alike. It made me think about how I raised my children.
On a second level I wondered when do we start trusting our children. When do we let go? Do we ever let go? We are parents forever, but there is a giving over of trust and letting our children try to do for themselves. I realize that for each of our kids that time of turning over trust is different. Each kid is different. Each situation is different. As adults we have to feel for ourselves the appropriateness of each situation. Sometimes it is a tough call. Sometimes we turn over a trust to our kids and they let us down – fall flat on their face – but we go on and try again maybe with more instruction next time. It seems we are constantly weighing moments, decisions – trying to decide what is right for each kid at that moment in time.
Did I think of all of that while letting GBN1 go into a bathroom stall by herself? No. Do I always let her go by herself? No. Each situation is different. GBN1 reacts differently at different times. She is certainly different than other kids. And I have been wrong before.
My daughter is 26 years old. She is single and lives at home. She works as a drafter for Halliburton. She has her own car, which she pays for. She has a motorcycle, which she bought for herself. She likes to travel and do adventurous things like scuba diving, sky diving, etc. She is a clotheshorse. Is all of that okay? Are there some things that I should say "No Way!" Until the day that she marries, she is still under our protection. We still expect her to be obedient to our rules, and she is. Could she turn and walk away from all that we have taught her? Yes. Does that scare the heck out of me? Most definitely.
Metaphorically speaking: Not everyone agrees when to let children go potty by themselves. Anything could happen. Bathrooms are dirty. They could potty on their clothes. They could play in the toilet. Sometimes they think because they went potty by themselves, they can do anything. Etc. It is a chance that you take. Although you might not realize it, but when you do let them go by themselves, and they accomplish their goal without any problems, it is such a victory for them. It just seems well worth the chance. Isn’t that why we parents are here? We check out the situation, we weigh the circumstances, and decide if our kids can handle things. We can be wrong. Our kids can fail. But a trust develops between you and your child. Hopefully, you make the right decisions at the right time. Hopefully, you learn to trust each other’s decisions. Hopefully, you have a husband who says, "It is all okay; quit worrying."