“Whose house are you going to?” I ask as she is about to walk out the door.
“Sarah’s,” my girl says as she steps into her flip flips.
“Is her mom home?”
“No, Jason’s watching them.”
“I don’t want you in their house if their mom isn’t there.”
“No going inside with a parent!” I say emphatically.
I have given my oldest daughter a lot of freedom since moving from suburban New Jersey to coastal North Carolina. Our town, which has a Mayberry feel, is quiet in the off season but not deserted. The neighbors look out for one another yet politely mind their own business. It’s the kind of place where kids ride bicycles together after school until parents call them home for dinner.
I am not a helicopter parent or one who worries incessantly about “bad things happening to my kids.” I err much more on the side of being that “free range” mom who gives my children as much independence as I believe they can handle. I don’t subscribe to the thought that there is a child abductor lurking behind the corner of every school bus stop or a gunman about to barge into their classroom. Yes, these things fall into the realm of possible in my mind but not probable. I believe that nine times out of ten, my child, when out in the world without me, is safe.
However, as her parent, it’s my responsibility to prepare her for what would potentially be that “tenth” time.
This fall, while using the above dialogue with my daughter as a segue, I had a very frank discussion with her about sexual assault. I didn’t have this discussion to scare her. Conversely, I wanted to give her information that would empower her so that she can make safe and wise choices when I am not around.
Today, I’m writing about our discussion on Ten to Twenty Parenting, a website dedicated to topics associated with raising tweens and teens.
Discussing rape with my daughter was not an easy conversation. It’s such a blunt and ugly topic, explaining to a child who has just recently learned about sex to begin with, that it is something that can be used as an act of violence. There are so many fine lines we walk as parents, when to protect, when to let go, and when to let go but with words of caution. I’d love to know how you manage this, how you walk this line. I welcome you to join me over at Ten to Twenty for your thoughts and comments.