How can I be OK with letting go?
October 22, 2021 3:24 PM   Subscribe

Taking Covid exposure concerns out of the equation…how can I learn to accept the risks and give more social activity independence to my child? Snowflakes ahead!

My middle school child was in online school for the entire year last year. I feel like we’ve missed the normal progression of letting go due to Covid. I need help with being OK with all the sudden her having independence and experiences without parents. They want to go out with a group of pals all around their age for several hours, including after dark. It is a public ticketed event. Why is it so easy for other people to just dropoff their kiddo and go? How can I just trust and not be miserable the whole time they are gone?
posted by gryphonlover to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is exactly the only thing Share My Location is good for. Hugely beneficial in the approximately 40, I mean 3, years of anxiety that grip us after our kids start going out.
posted by Tim Bucktooth at 3:34 PM on October 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I can't tell if your concern is due to Covid, or just the general sense of watching your kiddo growing up. I think the way you do it is by ... doing it. By dropping them off and going and then seeing how happy they are when they get back and has things to tell you about.

If your concern is specifically about Covid: I tell myself that a big part of the reason I try to be cautious is so that my kiddos can have a bit more freedom.

But I think this is a lot about parenting anxiety, right? I think this can be tough now or whenever, aside from Covid. I think you just have to practice. And if it's hard, that's okay -- you just talk to a partner or friend about that, but not kid.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:53 PM on October 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

When I first let my kids out independently to roam around town with a bunch of preteens, it was not easy. We asked them to check in via text at least every half hour. I think they were happy too because it is a little scary for them being on their own too at first. Wait until they get a DL. "Dad, can I borrow the car and $20? PLEASE!" Let them out in the car, after dark with several other ying yangs in the car. Sleep will be elusive. Relaxation, non-existent.

SO how do you learn? You do. You start out with say a few hours and regular check ins and hold your breath. Slowly you will get accustomed to the back of the mind worry.
posted by AugustWest at 4:01 PM on October 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm not there yet, but my memory is of my parents doing it very step-by-step. Sitting in the table next to us at the diner, etc. I imagine your idea of COVID interrupting this is right. Could you do an accelerated version?
posted by slidell at 10:13 PM on October 22, 2021

Yeah, step by step. I grew up before cell phones. We had curfews. Staying out alone with friends after dark wasn't a thing until we could reliably ferry ourselves places, i.e. late junior or senior year of high school. Even then, I had to call home when I arrived and when I was leaving. Always carried lots of quarters for pay phones.

In retrospect, middle school was my peak overestimatation of adultability, mostly because most middle schoolers can't even conceive of what might happen/go wrong/contingencies for a public ticketed event at night. Saying no to this one doesn't mean you're stunting your preteen for the rest of their life.
posted by basalganglia at 2:02 AM on October 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Your job isn't to not to be miserable, it's to let her go anyway. In other words, your experience of parenthood should not be her experience of childhood.

But on a purely practical level, remember that elephants have nothing on the herd instincts of a pack of pre-teen girls.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:36 AM on October 23, 2021 [9 favorites]

I know it’s extra hard & scary to be a parent these days! I can say that at the middle school where I work, most kids are now vaccinated and quite responsible about masks, so that’s a positive. I can also say that so many teens are struggling with the social isolation of last year and the happiest — and mentally healthiest— ones are those who are being allowed to see friends and go out a bit. Yes there’s an increased COVID risk in going but there are other risks in not going as well. That said, this event sounds like a big leap so maybe a smaller event and/or parental supervision would help everyone feel better. The teens might love it & not want to leave but chances are it’ll be a bit overwhelming for all of them, at least at first, when it’s so long!
posted by smorgasbord at 4:36 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

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