Holding on vs. Letting Go… How do we Find the Balance?
There is always a lot of work to do after a long holiday weekend, but all I can think about today is the horrific tragedy in Manchester last night. As mothers, as parents, we work so hard to try to let go, to teach our kids independence and how to be street smart. It’s a grueling internal fight that my friends and I discuss on an ongoing basis. That fine line when they have become old enough to go off on their own, and to have some freedom, but at what cost?
I’m not a neurotic helicopter parent. I’ll be the first to say to my son that he’s ready. He can walk around the neighbourhood with his friends. But events like Manchester give me pause. As parents, we want to raise confident, independent kids to go to the park and play, or ride their bikes to the corner stores, and they shouldn’t need a cell phone for that. We all survived without phones at their age! But that was a different world. An almost a quaint world. No one was setting off bombs at a Duran Duran concert in the 80’s. No one was plowing their Honda Prelude into a crowded downtown street.
So, how do we find this balance? How do we let our kids grow up as kids, with a childhood, with teenage adventures and with normalcy, when there is a randomness of terror anywhere, any place at any time? How do we teach them to go out but be mindful? At what age should they be able to learn about stories like Manchester and know that there are harmful people out there? And how do we teach them about this without creating a generation of anxious kids?
No child (or adult for that matter) should ever have to consider the possibility of a bomb exploding when they go dancing at a night club, or attend their favourite concert. Even writing that phrase is surreal. Any yet. Those words, and yet… keep me up at night.
I’m not a worrier that the next bad thing is around the corner. Overall, I’m optimistic about life in general, and I try to teach that to my kids. I want then to believe that the world is a good place and that people are inherently good. I believe in my core that most people are good. I try to teach my kids that the more we are accepting of people’s differences, the more we try to learn about other cultures and places, the more they will understand that there is more that unites us than divides us. But they are young.
And extremists who are bent on hate and destruction know no boundaries.
Those lack of boundaries are what’s terrifying. It’s not about going into a “bad neighbourhood” or a going to a seedy club or attending a punk rock concert. It’s indiscriminate. It’s one lone deranged person with a mission to take as many innocent lives as possible with them. It’s the unrelenting reinvention of terror. This is no longer a bomb detonated on a bus in the Middle East, it’s a car hurtling into a shopping plaza in Sweden or a truck barreling down a parade route in Nice or a bomb planted on the route of the Boston Marathon.
It’s terrifying. And terror is what they want.
It’s how they win if we stop our kids from living normally, from going to concerts or outings, or outdoor cafes. I’m devastated for those families in Manchester who lost their loved ones. I look at my boys and I want to grab them an not let them go. But when they grow old enough to go to concerts, or to travel or to have adventures on their own, I will hold them tightly and then let them go. The only way to win a war on darkness, is to steer our kids into the light with Independence, knowledge and confidence. And with the hope that one day, this period of time, “the early 2000’s” will be looked at as a dark time in history. But it will be studied in history books as an era, rather than a norm.
-R. Green, Mom of Two Awesome Boys