Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How much time should a parent invest?

Are you a parent? If not I'm sure you know someone who is. I am. My husband and I have 2 great kids ages 16 & 25, one is a boy and one is a girl. Both are very similar in a lot of ways, but on the other hand at times could not be more different. My question to you, as a fellow parent, is 'how much time should a parent invest' in their children? In today's society children are expected to go to school, be involved in various co-curricular activities, do community service ... everything from t-ball, dance classes, soccer, girl and boy scouts, piano lessons, school clubs, the church youth group ... and the list goes on and on. As parents we're expected by society to keep our children busy with activities, keep their minds challenged, and keep them out of trouble.

When our son was in high school we would drive him to band practices, science olympiad tournaments, and hockey games. Then we drove our daughter to music lessons, dance classes, and now marching band and symphony rehearsals. Of course there was a point in time when our son started driving himself to all of his 'things', but we would still show up to support him at every single game or concert (sometimes as a spectator and sometimes as a volunteer coach). Our daughter's current schedule is very similar and soon enough she will be driving herself to her part time job and band rehearsals as well.

Last night I attended her high school music booster monthly meeting. With 100+ students in the program there were probably less than 20% of the families represented by a parent. To some 20% may not sound like many and they would be right. On the other hand, it was a HUGE increase from when I attended for my son 10 years ago.

I remember when my son went off to college 8 years ago. I had a hard time at first, I'll admit I was missing him. I remember my boss telling me it was 'time to cut the apron strings'. Wow ... easy for him to say. Not always easy to do. The day we moved our son into his dorm, we were instructed to pull our vehicle up to a designated spot, unload his stuff onto the lawn, and then go park. Curb space was obviously limited. His 'stuff' could sit on the lawn as long as was needed in order for us to get him moved in. But you would be surprised at how many parents would unload their child's belongings and then just leave. A few of the students were left standing there alone on the lawn with their stuff. I even heard one parent say 'You're 18 now and on your own'. The mother in me wanted to walk over and give the kid a hug. I mean 'seriously?'

It doesn't matter how old my kids are - they are still my kids. I still care about how their day went and what their plans are. I will always be there to support them in things they are doing and will always help them in any way that I can.

So, as a parent, how do you manage? How do you not worry? I'm sure it'll get easier - that's what I've been told anyway.

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