Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bye, bye, birdie

One of the many choices I face as a mother is when to intervene in my children's lives. How much help should I be giving them? When do I let them make their own decisions? I have three lovely, beautiful children ranging in age from 17 to 9, so I have a wide variety of instances when I must decide "Do I let them tough it out and decide for themselves or do I take over?"

I'm a control freak by nature. You wouldn't know it to meet me...well, actually, you might...but I like to be able to make sure the situation does not get too far out of control. And with kids, there are plenty of out of control situations.

I think probably the biggest situation I am facing right now is letting them have some independence, particularly when it comes to their future. Now, my 9 year old is too young to decide what he wants to be (Jedi or trophy husband seem the wisest choices at this point), but the older two are in high school and it is hard not to jump in when I see them making mistakes.

Take my daughter...please! She is smart, incredibly smart, but she doesn't take advantage of opportunities that would help her get the scholarships to go that Ivy League school she has her heart set upon (Um, Mom and Dad both have public service jobs, might wanna have a backup plan). Like I did when I was her age, she believes that good grades will get her into a good school, and she'll get a degree or four and a career and live happily ever after (she isn't interested in children at this point, but she has said she'd consider a husband and maybe adopting an 18 year old foreign exchange student whom she will promptly kick out). My husband hounds her constantly to join clubs and get involved in student government and find groups that will lead her to greatness. I would simply like her to pick up her room. Should I be intervening more? I give her the information. But she needs to think for herself. That's probably the best life lesson to learn.

My oldest child is an even bigger puzzle. He would like me to intervene in his life. Just tell him what to do and where to go. School is not his thing. He isn't particularly interested in partying or going out. He has said he might like to be a policeman when he gets out of school. At 17 years old, he is the child I fight hardest not to just "mommy." He would be perfectly content with living with us until he was 40, maybe even moving a wife and kids into our basement if he ran across a woman who would put up with that. His personality lends itself to my motherly instincts (yes, despite rumors to the contrary, I have those). He is the oldest, so he has been our greatest experiment. And the results have been mixed. He is an awesome kid. He is also very dependent.

I don't envy mother birds who have to dump their babies out of the nest so they learn to fly. Can you imagine the baby bird that said, "Thanks, Mom, but I think I'll just stay in this nest with you until I'm 40." (ok, suspend the disbelief that birds don't have nearly that life span--this is an analogy here, people!)??? My point is, that this mother bird isn't ready to throw the babies from the nest yet, but I will have to make that decision sooner than I realize. I just hope that I have the strength and confidence to let them spread their wings and fly...even the 9-year-old Jedi trophy husband.

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