One of highlights of my kids’ year was the Wyman Carnival, aka, the yearly fundraiser at the elementary school they attended. The Wyman Carnival was a typical school carnival; a fish pond, cake walk, ring toss, popcorn, cotton candy, face painting, and everything else you would expect to find at an event such as this…including the cheap little prizes…ahem…I mean treasures the kids collected for playing the games (over and over and over again).
Oh, who am I trying to kid—the carnival was fun for the parents, too. It was fun to supervise the games; watching the kids react to being at school but not in school and giddy with the excitement that came from the sense of freedom they had.
Yes, you heard me—most of us allowed our children to go from room to room to room with their siblings and friends without us tagging along behind them or telling them where to go and what to do. That’s right—they were on their own. They decided how to ‘spend’ their carnival tickets. They decided how to conduct themselves. They decided which prize to choose after playing a game. It was up to them to find their way from one room to another and to listen to and understand the rules of the game.
Do you see where I’m going with this? As a parent, you have to give your children the freedom to experience life on their own. You have to give your children a certain amount of freedom to make their own choices and decisions without looking over their shoulder to see if you approve or to acquiesce to what you think.
You also have to give them these freedoms away from the confines of home. Giving them the choice between wearing a red shirt or a brown one or whether they want waffles or cereal for breakfast is a great place to start, but you have to let them use these same skills in public and with their peers. Remember…if you give them the opportunity to do this at an early age while you are still able to influence and mold them, they will be better equipped to make good choices in a few years when you aren’t nearly as ‘cool’ in their eyes.
Our days as “Wyman kids” are long gone, but my kids will still tell you their favorite thing about the Wyman Carnival was feeling like they were all that and a bag of chips walking around without me. (Little did they know their freedom was actually a life-lesson in self-discipline and responsibility)
I know it’s not easy for parents to feel like this is an option these days—what with all the scary things happening out there. But there were scary things happening then, too. I just chose to educate and equip my kids to know how to respond and conduct themselves instead of leaving them to figure it out on their own when hovering over them was no longer an option.
I hope you will do the same.
Copyright 2015-Darla Noble No part of this can be printed, copied, or reproduced without permission from the author.