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LOCAL PARENTS SHARE HOW THEY ARE LEARNING TO LET GO

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by Lisa Chung

Related: take small steps, be wary of where you're leaving your kids alone, set up open lines of communication, kids want to feel grown-up,


Giving your child freedom and independence should be balanced by the parental instinct for protection. Local parents share how they are learning to let go so that their children feel grown-up.

girl waving goodbyeTake little steps.

It takes a village to raise a kid,” says Robin Gorman Newman, who lives in Great Neck. “[Growing up], I always somehow felt I was surrounded by a village. It never felt like it was just you. Now, things are just different.”

Newman, founder of Motherhood Later (she had her child at 42), made the decision to provide her now 8-year-old son with a bit of independence by starting small—like dropping him off at the local synagogue where people know him, or at the pool where adults she trusts will keep a close eye on all the children.

“Kids want to feel safe and loved, but they also want to feel grown-up. You walk a fine line between giving them that sense, but wanting to hold on to them,” she says. “As a parent, it’s tough. The first time my son said, ‘Okay, bye, mom!’ I was taken aback. But then you realize that’s what you want. You raise them so that they can go off on their own some day…If you can instill in them at a young age the fact that they have the capacity for that…that’s great.”

 

Be wary.

On the other hand, raising two children, 10 and 13, in Manhattan, Marinka of the blog Motherhood in NYC, reveals that although the local yogurt or pizza shop are places she feels her kids can be safe because of their proximity to home and the fact that many other children hang out there, the subway, she says, is “absolutely off limits.”

In her blog post “I Can’t Free-Range My Kids. Should I Try?” she writes: “…although I think that [my kids] are smart, young and capable, they live in a world that often doesn’t value children and doesn’t protect them.”

These feelings are not just limited to raising kids in an urban area. A mother of three who is raising her children (ranging from 4-17) in Rockland, Merianne Jackson, founder of Chic Mom, says she is still searching for a place in the neighborhood where she feels comfortable and safe with her children. One of the best ways to help secure a place like this, she says, is to “become involved and get to know the other parents really well, so that in case I must leave [the kids], I am comfortable.”

 

Set up open lines of communication.

Finding a safe place for your kids is a two-way street. Both children and parents should feel comfortable about the venue. Ron Steingard, M.D., a child psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, stresses the importance of having open and direct conversations with your children as the first step toward feeling confident about dropping your child off without your supervision.

You have to have some degree of structure, try things in small pieces first, and have lots of discussion about it. Keep this communication open. You want them to feel comfortable and you want to be that ultimate safe place, so that you become the floor they walk on," Dr. Steingard says. “You can’t assume their expectations are the same as yours. You need to set the stage before you drop them off. Discuss where they’re going, set a time for arrival, a time for departure…Think about how the day will go and what they can expect…and prepare for that.”

 

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