If you are like most parents, you likely read that question and thought, “Well, yes I do want to know everything!!” Whether your child is four or 14, the fact is that you will have a hard time offering guidance, love, support, and even protection to your child if you don’t know what is going on. When kids are very young, parents really do need to keep a constant eye on their kids and they do need to know everything that goes on in their lives. This is a time in their lives when many behavior issues can be nipped in the bud if you are diligent about keeping tabs on them and correcting their behaviors when needed. Plus, bonding during this time can set the stage of a wonderful life-long relationship with your child, too.
Yet kids do grow up, and as they grow, they often create their own little bubble around them. Many parents do feel that as kids transition through their elementary and middle or junior high school years that they begin to lose touch with what is going on in their children’s lives, and there is quite a bit of anxiety of fear on a parent’s end when this happens. They think they want to know everything, and they complain that they feel out of touch with their kids.
The fact is that you do need to monitor your kids’ activities, know their friends and their friends’ parents, and keep tabs on their whereabouts at all times. Yet kids also really do need that space, and here’s why:
Making Mistakes. The fact is that one of the best ways to learn in life is to make mistakes. As parents, we’d like to be able to steer our kids clear of painful, heartbreaking mistakes and just tell them what to do their entire lives. Of course, this can’t possibly happen. These kids will be adults living on their own soon enough, and so they need to learn to stand on their own two feet. All you can and should do is make sure they don’t get into too much trouble and that their mistakes are minor.
Social Drama. Those preteen and teen years, and sometimes even those elementary school age years, too, can be chock full of social drama. When kids are just entering school, it’s easy for parents to set up play dates and ensure their kids have friends. They can even help to solve arguments between friends, too. Yet at some point kids do need to learn how to solve these crises and dramatic episodes on their own. At some point, they may even learn how to steer clear of them so they can lead a drama-free life!
Leading Their Own Lives. If you have dreams of your child going to college and getting established in a solid, successful career before settling down and having a lovely, happy family, you are not alone. This is a part of the modern American dream after all. Many kids will follow such a path, but the fact is that kids really do need to lead their own lives. You can offer guidance and make suggestions, but at some point you need to step aside and let your child steer the boat.
The fact is that many parents complain about this bubble kids create around themselves, and they complain that their kids rarely talk to them about anything. It can be hard to be a parent in such situations, and yet this is also a part of that natural separation process that kids will begin. Thankfully, it often extends across many years, starting often in the pre-teen years and very gradually extending until the time your teen leaves home and steps out on his or her own.
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The argument for kids playing multiple sports: Considerations beyond your schedule