Step Back, Homestead Parents. Let Your Kids Grow Up
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I’ve been thinking lately about my kids getting older and how it’s important that as a parent, we step back and let our kids grow up. Even when they might fail. Even when we’re not 100% sure of their ability. When we step back, we let them rise to the occasion. We give them an opportunity to show us who they are.
It reminded me of a time I saw one of my kids step up to lead the family. It’s not a dramatic example. Actually, it’s really quite simple. But it’s one of my favorites.
A few years ago, we were at our cabin, miles and miles off the beaten path in God’s country. We had hopped on our four-wheelers to go check deer stands, and were riding on trails that most people wouldn’t be able to find unless they knew they were there.
I was leading the group on my trusty red Honda, my husband and youngest were heading up the back in a side-by-side Ranger. Sandwiched in the middle on his own ATV was my eldest, 12 years old, riding alone. He’d just earned his ATV certificate the week before and was finally legal to ride by himself.
And man, was he proud.
It’s easier to keep the kid sandwiched in the middle of the group. It’s safer—if something happens with our son’s ATV and I drive on not knowing, my husband is behind our son to help.
Now, see…I know the trails.
I know where to turn.
I know exactly where we are going.
It’s just easier if I lead.
It’s easier—but not necessarily better.
Dear homestead parent, please step back and let your kids grow up.
When we arrived at one of the stands, I approached my oldest.
Me: You know these trails?
Him: Yeah. Mostly.
Me: You want to lead the group?
He thought for a minute.
Him: Hmmm. Yeah. Okay. Sure.
And so we pulled away from the deer stand with my oldest in the lead. With me following him. With him taking charge.
Once, he stopped at a fork in the trail because he wasn’t sure which way to go. Another time he almost missed a turn off that was hard to see.
But both times he figured it out and got us where we needed to go.
He took charge. He was the leader. We all survived.
And to his mother, the 12 year old looked a lot less boy and a little more man.
There are a million emotions that come with that. And it was perfectly fine.
Step back and let your kids grow up. Let them lead. Let them take charge.
Now, some families do have their kids in charge, but it’s in the manner of: my kids have everyone wrapped around their finger and totally run the show.
That is not what I’m talking about.
I’m strongly suggesting that your kids are given the opportunity to physically and mentally take charge of a situation because it gives them the confidence that if they ever had to lead, they could.
Is it a big deal to let your kid be the leader on the trails in the deep woods, miles away from the hunting shack?
Maybe not. But maybe it is.
We don’t think about our kids leading anymore because we live in a nice politically correct, “safe”, “civilized” world where 8-year-olds generally don’t have to worry about being the man of the house.
But we should think about it.
I can’t think of any reason that we shouldn’t.
We can argue all day about what the role of a parent is. But at some point, the goal is that your child will become an adult and exist independently of you in the big wide world. (If not, I hope your basement is comfy.)
We keep our kids young in ways we don’t even realize. The things we shelter them from, the conversations we won’t have with them, the responsibilities we don’t make them (or won’t let them) take on. Whether we’re talking about what a five year old can do or what a 15 year old can do, I’ll be honest—I think the main reason parents (especially moms) keep their kids young is because it’s easier.
Yes, I said it. It’s not to protect our kids, it’s to protect us.
We keep them young because we don’t have to worry about them screwing up.
We don’t have to listen to them complain about the task they’ve been handed.
We don’t have to agonize over will they be able to handle this and what will I look like as a parent when they can’t?
Your kids might fail. They might screw up. It’s okay. Step back and let your kids grow up.
I realize that children mature at different rates. I realize an 8 year old is not an 8 year old is not an 8 year old. I realize that not every 13 year old can handle xyz. Children evolve differently.
But are we honest enough as parents to decipher if it’s our kids that can’t handle xyz, or that we’re not willing to let them handle xyz?
Very few things can grow in the shade of a tower. Watch your kids grow and step up while you take a step back.
Or maybe even several steps back.
Homestead parents, let’s commit to growing confident, responsible men and women…not 18 year old boys and girls.