Allowing our children to take responsibility for themselves

My husband is terrible at remembering dates. He just doesn’t know birthdays or anniversaries. He has a constant fear of forgetting his god-son’s birthday & every so often he’ll panic about it, even though it could still be months away!

I have a theory about it.  His twin remembers all important dates. I believe that my hubby never had to remember dates because his twin did that for him. His twin would always let him know when a birthday or anniversary was coming up, so over the years hubby abdicated that responsibility to him.

Tuesday morning I was not a happy camper! The Ploughing Championship had started in Ratheniska, Co Laois and it seemed like the world & his mother were heading there – just as I was leaving the house to drop my teenage boys to the school bus. Traffic was unusually heavy but moving and I was grateful that we had left the house a little early.

Then #1 son pipes up – ‘oh damn, I forgot my lunch’.  I won’t go into the next 15 minutes except to say it involved turning the car, getting the lunch-box, taking a back road into the village to avoid the worsening traffic, frantic calls to pals to hold the bus, missing the bus and chasing it to the next stop.

Yet when I told my husband about the forgotten lunch-box, somehow it became MY fault that the lunch-box was forgotten! You see, hubby asks them very morning if they have their lunch with them. I didn’t, ergo it’s my fault.

Lake Mary High School in Seminole County, Florida has a rule, clearly posted in the front office: “Attention students and parents: We do not accept items for drop-off such as lunches, backpacks, homework, and sports equipment. Please plan accordingly.”  They have taken the view that, by the time you are in High School, you are well able to remember to bring what you need with you. If you forget, then you deal with the consequences.

My children have been taking their lunch to school since they were 4. It’s not like it was an unusual item that had to be brought to school that day, but they are now conditioned not to have to think about it until reminded by dad.

There comes a time in life, when we as parents have to let go.  We have to allow our children make their own mistakes. It is how they learn to deal with stress, how to come up with innovative solutions, how to cope when life doesn’t go smoothly.  On the grand scale of things, forgetting to bring lunch to school was a minor event.  The consequence though was missing the bus and the slagging that he got from his pals when we eventually caught up with it, just as it was pulling away from the final stop – cue honking of horns & flashing of lights.

On Tuesday my son learned that he has to be self-reliant and his dad & I learned that there comes a point where we have to allow our boys make mistakes.  Of course, we will always protect them, but big lessons can be learned from making little mistakes.

And what else did I learn?  The date for the 2016 Ploughing Championship is already in my diary AND I’ve texted it to the hubby’s twin!

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