Monday, June 15, 2009

Get lost!

I recently stumbled on this article about a mother who is forcing her son to carry a GPS tracking device on his post high school backpacking trip around the world. At first it sounds like a reasonable enough idea, she gets to track him without worrying about whether he'll check in.

The mother thinks that she can avoid danger and protect her children by simply knowing where they are. Yes, the kid is only nineteen, and sending a teenager freely into the world must be really scary, but then again part of the whole youth hostel experience is about learning to make your way in life without the safety net. The kid even mentions that he can leave the device behind if he doesn't want "Mum" to know where he really is. And what if something does happen? Can she actually prevent it?

These days most of what we provide for our kids is about controlling them. We send them to lessons so they'll be smarter and drive them to school ourselves so they'll be safe and tell them not to speak to anyone if they do manage to stumble, unaccompanied, to the sidewalks in front of our homes. We call up a neighbor to "schedule" their "play" time. And what is the message we are sending? That the world is too treacherous? That the bad stuff won't happen when the rules are followed? It's not the truth.

I am trying to figure out how I can raise my kids without getting too bogged down in preventative parenting. Mine are still little and I know where they are most of the time (hanging on me, usually). But I hope as they get older, I will be able to let go a little and just let them learn a few life lessons on their own.

So, I don't think I will pop a GPS into a backpack any time soon. And besides, after eighteen years with these two, I have a feeling that I am going to be saying go on honey...

get lost!


kathynboys said...

Look at those eyes! What beauties!

latisha said...

have you read her:

she wrote a book after a runin with the police wherein she allowed her 10 year old son to take the subway home (lives in NY) a few blocks.

so funny talks about this sorta stuff all the time.

Linda Pressman said...

I'm with you. I am trying to raise adults, after all!