Passionate About Tallahassee
and the Moms Who Live Here

A Soft Spot No More :: Pushing Your Kids Out of Their Comfort Zone

A few weeks ago, I did one of the hardest things I have ever done as a mom, so far.

I listened to my 11- year- old son cry on the phone and beg me to pick him up at the sleep-away camp we had sent him to, a camp he had reservations about attending from the start. He even went so far as to tell me that he was surprised his phone was not broken because of all the tears that had fallen on it. I kept thinking to myself, “Buddy, this hurts me more than it hurts you.” I have always been my children’s soft place to land and it killed me to sit there and listen to him cry. So many times during that night (and the two preceding nights), I wanted to grab my keys and drive the three and half hours there in the middle of the night to pick him up and rescue him from what he thought of as a horrible experience.

Why didn’t I? Because he wasn’t in any physical or emotional danger, he was simply homesick. Because my son is growing up and it’s time for me to start transitioning from a constant soft place into another role. Now, I need to start preparing my son for life outside of our home. I realized that I only have six short years with him living under my roof.

Six years to give him a foundation that ensures he’s not a life-sucking drain on society.

That’s not to say that I should change overnight from being Carol Brady to Mommie Dearest. It just means that my role needs to incorporate sometimes being the one that challenges my son a little more and pushes him out of his comfort zone because if I don’t, who will?

So, from now on, I won’t always be there to help him with the laundry. If he can create an entire fictional world in Minecraft, he can figure out the correct button to push on the washer to make sure his clothes are washed in cold water. Having trouble in school because you don’t understand the assignment? Get on your computer and email your teacher on your own. It’s better she hears from you anyway because math was never my strong suit and I could cause more harm than good.

And, while my son might be happy with the idea of living at home for the rest of his life, I am not.

My job is to ensure that he has all the skills in order to successfully make it on his own in the adult world…that includes knowing that your parents will not always be there to pick you up or bail you out. Some things you just have to learn the hard way.

After the first three nights, I think my son figured out that no amount of crying was going to bring us over to rescue him. At that point, we actually started hearing about the great things he was doing at camp and the fun times he was having. After camp was done, we had a long conversation about all the things he learned about himself and we made sure to point out that he had learned he could survive without us. That, while his father and I would always be there for him, he didn’t NEED us all the time. That he’s stronger than he knows.

My sons will always need me to be a soft spot, but sometimes they also need me to be their hard line. It’s a dynamic that’s going to take all of us some time to grow into.

3 Responses to A Soft Spot No More :: Pushing Your Kids Out of Their Comfort Zone

  1. Avatar
    Cathy Z August 29, 2018 at 8:23 am #

    Great job, mom! It’s so hard to to know when to push and when to cave. You did the right thing and coming from a mom who JUST left her first born 14 hours away to start his college chapter, I know the times I let him fall and pick himself back up again will be what helps him navigate this new challenge. Doesn’t mean it makes it any easier to watch them struggle when you know you could make it easier— but in the end, they need to figure out how to do it on their own with the luxury of knowing they have us supporting them from the sidelines. ❤️❤️

  2. Avatar
    Sandra August 29, 2018 at 11:08 am #

    If saying “no” or drawing lines in the sand were easy, we’d have fewer spoiled, entitled kids running around.

    I remember standing firm while my 6-year old daughter was trying to overcome her timidity enough to go ask for the shoe shine she desperately wanted at a shoe shine stand. “I’ll be right here, but if you want the shoe shine you have to go ask for it yourself”. Literally minutes ticked by as she built up the courage to walk up and ask.
    I also remember the overwhelming pride and beaming smile she had after having done so”!

    It’s especially fulfilling that you, Casia, remember it as one of your first and best successes in life. You’ve shared with me how many times you’ve drawn on that experience as a 6-year old to bolster yourself to tackle difficult and uncomfortable situations throughout your life.

    New (and new-ish) parents need to understand the very real payoff one has when the difficult parenting has been accomplished and your happy, successful and productive adult children thank you.

  3. Lyndsey
    Lyndsey September 2, 2018 at 11:21 am #

    Casia, I love this post! It is so hard to let go as a parent, but it is for their own good. Being a parent is such a balance of knowing when to give independence and when to reel them back in and assist. I’m so glad that you allowed him to have this experience this past summer. It sounds like everyone learned in the process.