Give Them Space
We’ve all heard of “Helicopter Parents” by now, and most of us probably think we aren’t one. Sometimes I catch myself trying to micromanage the way things are with my kids, but it’s always been a conscious priority for me to give them space. Offering a little bit of physical distance can go a long way for our parent-child relationships. And because so often, they’re literally on top of me, it gives me space to be my own person for a while as well. Giving them space can be such a good thing for so many reasons. Here are ways I’ve noticed that giving them space can be beneficial:
Give Them Space to Take Risks
With a little bit of space, kids might be willing to take a few extra risks, knowing their parents aren’t there hovering over them, shouting “be careful!” at every twist and turn. Giving them space offers the opportunity for your kiddo to be able to calculate their own risks and decide if they can or can’t jump from great heights, make new friends or try out something new. (Of course, you’re probably watching from a distance and keeping an eye out, just in case the risky behavior doesn’t turn out well, but they don’t have to know that.)
Space to Solve Conflict
My friend was over recently, and we were chatting while my kids were in the sandbox. They started screaming, yelling (and maybe hitting?) each other. My friend said, “do you need to go help?” I just replied, “they’ll figure it out,” and she said, “good for you.” And you know what? They figured out the problem by themselves. When I give them space, and as long as no one is getting hurt, more often than not, they are learning the skill of resolving their own conflicts. This will surely benefit them as they grow.
Space to Explore
Sometimes I feel like a boring mom because I’m not one to plan out our days. Often, we just go for a walk, go to the playground, or see where the day takes us. A lot of times, it’s really fun to help my kids explore, to answer their questions about bugs, flowers, and other fun finds. But at other times, it’s really nice to take a few steps back and give them space to explore on their own terms. With enough knowledge, they’re able to identify flowers, bugs, and critters themselves. They get to exercise confidence in their growing knowledge and be proud of what they already know.
Space to Build Their Own Relationships
We’re still getting to know people in our neighborhood. Most of the “mom friends” I made during pregnancy and postpartum don’t live very close to me anymore. That means that I’m not usually meeting up with someone if we’re doing something local. This has been beneficial for my kids because it gives them a chance to build their own social skills. When we go to the playground, of course, I take some time to play, push them in the swings and run around a bit. But after a while, I usually find a bench or a grassy spot and pick up a book. I give them some space to decide what they would like to do. Oftentimes, there are other kids around, and it gives my kids a chance to introduce themselves, get to know someone new, and see if they get along or not and if that’s going to be a lasting friendship.
It also gives my kids a chance to get along with each other. Because we decided to have multiple children, they have each other for life. Whether they’re good friends into adulthood remains to be seen, but for now, they also need space to work on their relationship with each other. They need space to solve conflicts, have fun, and get into trouble and plot against me sometimes. All of that is good (even though I don’t always love their mischief) and important for them to do. They’ve got each other for the rest of their lives, and they need time and space just to be, without Mom getting in the way*.
In the end, it’s worth it just to take a few steps back, give them space, take some deep breaths and enjoy watching them turn into the people they’ve become.
*(As a note here, I know I’m lucky to have been able to have the family I planned, and many people suffer from secondary infertility, have lost a child, or have only one child for whatever reason they choose and won’t get to see a sibling relationship unfold.)