Sometimes Kids’ Adventure Needs to Be Mom-Free

“Mom, we did really awesome things that you would not like,” my son rambled from the backseat, along with descriptions of climbing high, wet, slippery rocks and getting up-close and personal with a possible rattlesnake.

My brain stopped at those high, slippery rocks. I knew those window falls he was talking about. He’s right. There’s no way I’d ever let him climb that.

But my son’s quote is the essence of our relationship. He seeks awesome things and I typically do not like them. Mention adventure and my danger radar goes off. I go into protection mode when it comes to my kids. I know I can’t wrap them in bubble wrap and send them out into the world. I know I have to let them live an actual life and experience actual things. None of that means I won’t worry the entire time they are away from me. And in order for my kids to have certain adventures, like awesome things I would not like, sometimes they just need to be away from me.

My son went camping this week with a friend and his dad. This dad has experience backpacking, camping in places much rougher than the hour-away campground they went to, complete with bathhouse. He’s been a camp counselor and a school principal. A pretty good resume if you are the type of mom who considers credentials before sending your child into the wild.

My breath may catch when my son climbs to new heights. I may tell him to be careful when he walks on slippery rocks. I may remind him twenty times to remember to shower so doesn’t get itchy at night. But once he leaves me, I know what I don’t know won’t hurt me, he’ll have fun, and he’ll do things I wouldn’t allow. He’ll experience life in a way I would never let him. Sometimes that’s the best part of letting go. In order for my kids to truly experience life, sometimes they need to do it out of my grasp.

When they come home and tell me their adventures, I smile and nod my head and I’m glad I wasn’t there to hold them back. And sometimes, I just pretend to listen. I don’t need to hear about all the awesome stuff.



Filed under Boy Stories

30 responses to “Sometimes Kids’ Adventure Needs to Be Mom-Free

  1. MJ

    Great post. Sounds like me! I had to force myself to gradually let go the past year. My son just turned 18 last month. He recently got a job and is riding his mountain bike to work – 45 minute ride through farmland barren roads and desert mountain trails. I still cringe!

    • I know I’ll always cringe. That sounds like a scary ride to work! But I guess at 18, what can you say, right? You can’t ride along behind him and make sure he gets there safely. 😉

  2. Such a great post! I totally agree, I know I am more protective than I should be with my boys and sometimes I just need to take myself out of the equation and let them spread their wings with people I know and trust.

    • I have been very protective and now I feel that my kids are getting older and deserve some freedom. I take my cues from them. My son wanted to stay home alone so I armed him with four phone numbers and the phone and took off on a 20-minute trip to the grocery store that is three minutes away. Scary! Ha. I don’t think he moved from in front of the television. Turns out it was only scary for me. Lesson learned.

  3. I can only hope that when my Little Man is old enough that I will remember things like this, that it is okay to let go sometimes..

  4. It’s cool thought that your son still told you about his adventure even though know he knew you would not be comfortable/happy about it.
    It sounds like you have a good attitude and understanding in regards to letting the kids grow and move forward.

    • My son tells me many things I don’t want to hear! That’s good though. I’ll take it. I don’t know if he thinks my reaction is funny or if he wants to make sure what he did was OK.

  5. Szuzanna

    It’s so hard to let them go. My daughter wants to go visit Vegas. As much I want to say “no”, I just have to answer you’re 21, you don’t need my permission. And, I remind my self she’s a great person, has a level head, has a part-time job and goes to school full time. And, if I were her age, I’d be wanting to do the same.

    • Well, if she’s paying, right? But what’s that saying? What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? I say that all the time. What happens at Grandma’s, stays at Grandma’s. 😉 At least she doesn’t want to move to Europe, right? Bright side.

  6. I completely agree! My 8 year old loves to tell me all about the shenanigans he got into without my knowledge, and I think the kids need that freedom at times. The freedom to be kids and to get into some trouble! Thank you for sharing!

    • It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? I remember riding my bike places where I wasn’t supposed to as a kid. I didn’t get in any trouble. I never went alone. I turned out OK. Kind of.

  7. Such a great post, you’re speaking on behalf of all of us who feel the very same way. It’s so hard to be in it, wanting to keep them safe but at the same time knowing that there are many things they need to do in order to experience it for themselves. Everyone gets what they need when you send them off with other trusted adults! I love that you ‘check out their credentials’ before you do…I do that too but have never said it out aloud…until now! So funny!

    • Sometimes I think the fear is due to the memory of what we did as kids. Because of that, I’m really dreading the teenage years. Also, you read stories about freak accidents and you just can’t get those out of your mind. But as a parent, you can’t keep your kid in a bubble because something might happen. Something might happen while standing on a chair in the house, like it did at our house last week. Ugh.

  8. Great post! The last few months I have been trying to let my son just be a boy and do the crazy things that boys do. I don’t necessarily like how high he climbs at the playground. And I sure do get some terrified looks from some of the other moms (especially those with girls) but he’s discovering, he’s growing and he’s a boy just being a boy. Taking lots of deep breaths these days. 😉

    • Yes, I find a big difference in what I let my son do now than what I’d have let him do two years ago. But he’ll be going to middle school soon and I think he needs to find some freedom on his own before then. You can’t send a “baby” to middle school. 😉

  9. i’m with you – but when they’re ultimately home telling me all about it, i know they’re safe with me and it’s over, so it’s all okay..

  10. Maturity is learning which stories to share with your mom and which ones to stash until . . . well, never. This sorting process is less about protecting your reputation as a sane human and more about guarding her blood pressure.

    • So nicely put, Traci. I like that idea, guarding Mom’s blood pressure. I hope my kids become skilled at it while getting into innocent trouble and keeping their heads on their shoulders. 😉

  11. Oh boy, those years are coming soon for me. It is great that you son wants to share with you the adventures he had even when he knows you would not have wanted him to do those things had you been along. And you are right that kids need to do things that freak the heck out of us when we are not around.

  12. My kids are still young now, but I know the day will come when I will have to let go. However, I’m not quite ready yet to let go of the bubble wrap but thanks for the tip! 🙂

  13. I do ‘t think kids learn nearly as much when we’re watching over their shoulders every minute. And frankly, if mom or dad is there to fix everything, then they never learn to problem solve which is vital.

  14. I’m learning just how important that is. It’s a struggle when you teach at the same school that they attend….

  15. I just lost my comment, but I was saying that my kids do much more adventurous stuff with my husband. I know they need to be brave and try new things, but I don’t want to watch. My mind automatically goes to the “what if” and the worst case scenario.

    I’m glad your kids had a good time and stayed safe.

  16. Great post! It is nice to know that us moms face the same fears for our kids. Letting them go and grow on their own is definitely the hardest part of being a parent. And yes, I close my eyes at times too.

  17. Good post. So relevant and timely, too, in this age of helicopter parents! I had to learn to “let go” fairly early on in my parenting journey. I have twins, and once they were able to run in two different directions- that was kind of it. 😉 I also want to make sure my children grow up with confidence- trying and failing (or falling, as it may be) is part of building that. Seeing that it’s OK not to be perfect, and also that Mommy believes in me and my abilities!

  18. Indeed, kids love and need their ME time where they are allowed to be themselves.

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