Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How independent is too independent?

My daughter is beautiful, smart, athletic, has lots of friends...all the things you would think would make for teenage heaven, right? Of course, right. And on top of all that, she's a parent's dream in that she's not boy crazy yet, like many other girls her age.

Okay, okay...you can stop rolling your eyes at me. I know I should be over the moon she's focused on grades and sports and just being herself. And don't get me wrong, it's not that guys aren't on her radar, they are. She's noticed quite a few and believe me they notice her, too. In fact, just this past Valentine's Day, a guy she knows gave her a beautiful bracelet for the occasion. She was thrilled with the gift and the sweet kiss that followed. So it's not that romance isn't on her list of interests...it's just not something she's interested in chasing.

So, should I worry she's not like the other girls in her class, preoccupying themselves with incessant texts and snap chats to guys and gossiping with their friends over the latest hookups? No. That's not something I'm interested in chasing.

So what should I think about all this disinterest?

I've written blog posts in the past about being a role model for my girls, about teaching them to be independent and to develop their self-worth through action and accomplishment...that the worst thing I could do for them as their mother, is to allow them to believe their value lies in nothing more than being decorative. I think I've accomplished that well through example, rather than just through words. They've been with me every step of the way as I earned my first and second degree black belts, as I started my writing career and my books began to win awards. They've been there when I've had speaking engagements and seen the pictures from the writer's conferences where I've been featured often as a guest panelist. My interests have always been eclectic and I work at my own pace, comparing my own accomplishments against no one else's but my own.

Now I have to ask myself, with all this independence and strength...and I use the words conditionally...swirling through the way I run my life, have my girls gotten so caught up in my tornado of ideas and opinions that I've robbed them of certain rites of passage every girl should experience?

Is there such a thing as too independent?

I feel like Karen Allen, the actress from the movie, The Sandlot Lot, when she tells her son to go out and get into trouble, to get dirty and skin his knees because he's too good to be true. Do I tell my teenage daughter to stop being so focused and to start flirting or do I just let her be herself? Do I need to worry that she's so focused on the goals she's set for herself, that she's forgetting to enjoy the journey...or worse...that she doesn't know how?

Every parent questions whether or not they've made the right choices when it comes to their kids. My hope is I've prepared her enough for her future, and as far as that goes, independence and a clear sense of self-worth is never a bad thing. As to romance and heartbreak as a rite of passage, I guess no one escapes it forever, and when it does come knocking I'll certainly be there for my daughter the same way my own mother was there for me. I just want to make sure my girls look around every once in a while to see that it is there, even if it's only on the horizon. That it's worth its weight in gold to be carefree and even silly sometimes, and that you can have it all. You just have to remember to let it happen.

Originally posted on my blog 'Madcap Moms...What's Wrong with this Picture' March 8, 2013

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