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Stepping Back So Kids Can Choose

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on September 19, 2018 20:20

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Letting our kids make choices can leave parents feeling powerless. Take a deep breath and keep parenting. It will be okay.

As parents, we worry about our kids. As a single mom, I know I nag a bit on certain things, hoping to bludgeon my son with realities of truth at times. We parents have done this for ages. Brush your teeth or you’ll lose them. Eat your vegetable or you’ll not grow up to be strong.

The nagging changes as they get older. Now with a teenager the nudgery is much more focused on his future choices. I’ll admit that I worry. When you have a smart kid who could graduate high school early with college credits to his name, you have expectations. It’s natural.

But my expectations are not his expectations. For many years he had dreamed of going to the Naval Academy and training to be a Navy pilot. Then he shifted as most kids do at some point. The best way to describe it; he wanted to travel in a van in third world countries to see them before they disappeared. What do you hear as a mom: he’s going to be homeless.

While I argue with him about and clearly reiterate my deep desires for him to get his degree before embarking on his endeavors, I’ve always made it clear that I can’t control his choices. We’ve been having this same conversation for nearly two years.

Yesterday he calls me to let me know he’s running late. He was speaking to his counselor. They created a plan because he now has concrete ideas about his future: a double degree in anthropology and geophysics. While I have no clue what either of those have by way of future careers, he’s finding his way.

We’ll talk more about his ideas and his goals. I can see that they already relate to his desire to travel, see unique and historic places and meet people from every walk of life. The great thing is that we both win the two-year argument.

He goes to college – a win for me. He then gets to travel the world on his terms – a win for him.

I’m always amazed that when given the choice, he seems to find the right answer. It isn’t always my answer or my way. And that’s okay. He’s his own guy and I’m really proud of that. Plus he asks for more vegetables and had a perfect dental exam last month.

Giving our kids the freedom to choose doesn’t mean we stop parenting. And watching them through ups and downs isn’t easy. But with guidance and positive communication, we see great results. 

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on September 19, 2018 20:20

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