Thursday, July 19, 2018

the balance of giving kids independence...wrapped together with a wedding and Father's Day

It's always tough to find the balance in how much independence to give kids.

We live in a world of helicopter parenting, and sometimes I think I'm among the worst offenders. It's hard not to helicoptering in a way, because we live in an age of being constantly tethered to our kids.  We can follow them everywhere they go through "find my friends."  We can follow their texting chains, follow them on social media, we have access to their phones and their "journals" that in the past were private, kept in drawers scrawled out on handwritten pages.  Now sometimes their innermost feelings are right there in broad daylight if we flip through their fake instagrams and Snapchat feeds.

I feel like my parents were pretty exceptional, and they didn't know where I was half of my life.  Luckily I made good choices and maybe somehow they just knew they could trust me, but I was definitely not tethered to them.  That trust did something for me I think.  As we follow our kids every way we can, are we robbing them of an important component of growing up?  Are we losing that important part of that parent/child relationship as we work to establish that trust?  I don't know, but it's interesting to think about. 

We're skipping back to June for a second because I thought about this a lot particularly because of some independence we gave Grace.

We had the opportunity to go here for a few days:

That wonderful land of California.

And Grace had lots of Old Navy shifts stretched before her on the agenda.

So, after some deliberation, Dave and I decided to take the little girls with some of their friends a few days early...




...and let that teenager of ours drive with a few friends to meet us there for a few days in between her shifts. She has proven herself as a really great driver, has demonstrated grace under pressure in many ways, and we just felt like this was the right move.

This is how she felt about that:
Ok, so you can't see her face, but believe me, she was over-the-moon about that little arrangement.  And although not pictured, her friends felt the same.  (We had talked through this plan with each of their parents and they were all on board.)

Oh wait, here's a picture:
Yeah, they were pretty happy.

Max and his friends, those independent college boys, made the long drive to meet us too, and it was so great to have them!






I think it's pretty cool that Max can whip this out any time on command:


We loved getting to know those friends better, having some pretty fun discussions with those three returned missionary boys, and Dave and I got some time to do a few things just the two of us.

One of those things was checking out Soul Cycle.  Our friends had told us about it and we had wanted to try it for a while.  Boy howdy was I ever sweating up a storm in that little room filled with people cycling their hearts out right next to me!

As we were leaving, I heard my name being called...happened to be one of my best high school friends who was there in that same class with us along with her daughter who had just graduated.  It is such a small world.  Loved catching up with Al for a little bit!:

We made tinfoil dinners for a beach dinner one night:



There was something pretty beautiful not only about that gorgeous sun slanting over the ocean...it was so awesome to be surrounded by all those good friends.







This is a dark picture, but as the darkness gathered these girls had some pretty great dance moves going to their little speaker.

It was a "friend weekend" for all of us since it was the weekend our friends' daughter was getting married, which gathered other friends as well back from college days.  They joined us for our beach fire and then came to hang at the condo fro a little bit too.

The next day was the wedding.
Yes, kind of like groundhog day...another friend was married in this same temple a month before, the day before Mother's Day and this was the day before Father's Day.  That other wedding is back HERE.  Crazy how it worked out that way!

Loved being reunited with these good people.



...and that Max could be there too.
After the reception we sat and talk, talk, talked on the rooftop of some swanky hotel wrapped in blankets until they kicked us out.

Then it was Father's Day.

And I'm sure it was Dave's favorite to be the singular male surrounded by NINE women. 

HA!  (Max and his friends had to leave that morning to get back for school/work.)

We made him a great breakfast and headed, all ten, to church.

Then Grace and her friends had to leave too, and we were back down to just the little girls and us.











This was how our map looked to get home.
California traffic is nuts.

And this happed in the middle of it:
That car smashed right into the back of us on the freeway.  Our car got dented pretty well, but that one I think had to be towed away from the scene.

I sat on the side of the road so filled with gratitude that no one was hurt, that the people who hit us were so nice, that Dave was there to take care of all the details, and especially that that didn't happen to Grace and her friends a couple days before!

That driver didn't end up having insurance, dang it, and we're trying to figure it all out so we're still driving around a month later with the back of our car fixed up all pretty with duct tape as a reminder.


I know I bemoan the fact that our kids are growing up, and doing it so quickly, but I do also love to watch them grow...to watch them fly.  I love that Grace (and Max) could come meet us.  I love that Grace tucked some more independence under her belt as a result.  

Giving that independence in the right amount with the right timing is always tricky business.  

I"m curious to hear other thoughts on giving independence and helping ourselves "let go" in this world of technology that keeps us so very connected.  There are so many "right ways" to do it.  My sister's friend who lives on the East Coast decided to send her teenagers with some friends to New York City on a train to have an adventure with no cell phones.  They figured it would be a good trial of independence.  When she first told me that plan my heart clinched up.  What if they got lost?  What if they needed to get in touch with their parents?  What if there was an emergency?  And then I realized that was kind of real life before cell phones.  We didn't have them and we all survived, right?  Interesting to think of the things we're so protective of these days, where to let go, and where to step up our protection.  Do we think it through or do we just go with the flow of everyone around us?  

Everyone of course will get different answers, but I love to think outside the box and remember that kids do need to learn and we can't stay constantly tethered forever and ever, as much as sometimes I wish we could!!

Just some thoughts on a Thursday morning.
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