Like my mother, I find it easy to be a parent. Sometimes I think it’s because of my age; I don’t need to live through my child. My mom gave me space. I would come home from school and watch the same soap opera, “Another World,” as she was watching only I was in another room. Then we would hang out. While I cheered and had the most student activities in my graduating class, I took summers off and did nothing but read and spend time with friends and family. Unlike my mother, I never thought of being a wife/mother; I wanted to be a photojournalist and travel the world.
That’s probably why I give my child space and I teach her practical skills. She knew our phone number and address in preschool, how to use the ATM by second grade and she’s learning to travel on the Metro, the bus and by bicycle. She makes plane reservations, washes her clothes and prepares foods she likes. She cares for the dog. Most importantly, she’s responsible for her schoolwork.
An important factor in preventing adolescent drug and alcohol use, underage sex and other bad behaviors is a strong parent-child relationship. Like my birth family, the family I’ve created is close. We laugh a lot, share common interests, drive each other crazy and we talk. A lot. About everything. It seems to be working; she’s doing well. So far, so good.
On the flip side, I read an article about an increase in the number of college students experiencing anxiety and needing mental health treatment because their parents cared too much. Helicopter parents over-communicate. There’s no space. All the emphasis and family hopes are pinned on the child’s success and children don’t know how to survive without a parent’s intervention. As the article suggests, parents would rather their kids be miserable at Stanford than happy at Arizona.
Because many marriages end when children leave, why not date your mate, talk to your kid(s), try to pick the best teachers and get out of the way. If you’re okay, they’re okay.
Suzy Jacobs, Executive Director,
3131 Foothill Blvd. Suite D
La Crescenta, CA 91214
(818) 646-7867 • cv-alliance.org/