It’s always tough to find the balance in how much independence to give kids.

We live in a world of helicopter parenting, and sometimes I think I’m among the worst offenders. It’s hard not to helicoptering in a way, because we live in an age of being constantly tethered to our kids.  We can follow them everywhere they go through “find my friends.”  We can follow their texting chains, follow them on social media, we have access to their phones and their “journals” that in the past were private, kept in drawers scrawled out on handwritten pages.  Now sometimes their innermost feelings are right there in broad daylight if we flip through their fake instagrams and Snapchat feeds.

I feel like my parents were pretty exceptional, and they didn’t know where I was half of my life.  Luckily I made good choices and maybe somehow they just knew they could trust me, but I was definitely not tethered to them.  That trust did something for me I think.  As we follow our kids every way we can, are we robbing them of an important component of growing up?  Are we losing that important part of that parent/child relationship as we work to establish that trust?  I don’t know, but it’s interesting to think about. 
We’re skipping back to June for a second because I thought about this a lot particularly because of some independence we gave Grace.
We had the opportunity to go here for a few days:

That wonderful land of California.
And Grace had lots of Old Navy shifts stretched before her on the agenda.
So, after some deliberation, Dave and I decided to take the little girls with some of their friends a few days early…

…and let that teenager of ours drive with a few friends to meet us there for a few days in between her shifts. She has proven herself as a really great driver, has demonstrated grace under pressure in many ways, and we just felt like this was the right move.
This is how she felt about that:

Ok, so you can’t see her face, but believe me, she was over-the-moon about that little arrangement.  And although not pictured, her friends felt the same.  (We had talked through this plan with each of their parents and they were all on board.)

Oh wait, here’s a picture:

Yeah, they were pretty happy.

Max and his friends, those independent college boys, made the long drive to meet us too, and it was so great to have them!

I think it’s pretty cool that Max can whip this out any time on command:

We loved getting to know those friends better, having some pretty fun discussions with those three returned missionary boys, and Dave and I got some time to do a few things just the two of us.

One of those things was checking out Soul Cycle.  Our friends had told us about it and we had wanted to try it for a while.  Boy howdy was I ever sweating up a storm in that little room filled with people cycling their hearts out right next to me!

As we were leaving, I heard my name being called…happened to be one of my best high school friends who was there in that same class with us along with her daughter who had just graduated.  It is such a small world.  Loved catching up with Al for a little bit!:

We made tinfoil dinners for a beach dinner one night:

There was something pretty beautiful not only about that gorgeous sun slanting over the ocean…it was so awesome to be surrounded by all those good friends.

This is a dark picture, but as the darkness gathered these girls had some pretty great dance moves going to their little speaker.

It was a “friend weekend” for all of us since it was the weekend our friends’ daughter was getting married, which gathered other friends as well back from college days.  They joined us for our beach fire and then came to hang at the condo fro a little bit too.

The next day was the wedding.

Yes, kind of like groundhog day…another friend was married in this same temple a month before, the day before Mother’s Day and this was the day before Father’s Day.  That other wedding is back HERE.  Crazy how it worked out that way!

Loved being reunited with these good people.

…and that Max could be there too.

After the reception we sat and talk, talk, talked on the rooftop of some swanky hotel wrapped in blankets until they kicked us out.

Then it was Father’s Day.

And I’m sure it was Dave’s favorite to be the singular male surrounded by NINE women. 

HA!  (Max and his friends had to leave that morning to get back for school/work.)

We made him a great breakfast and headed, all ten, to church.

Then Grace and her friends had to leave too, and we were back down to just the little girls and us.

This was how our map looked to get home.
California traffic is nuts.
And this happed in the middle of it:

That car smashed right into the back of us on the freeway.  Our car got dented pretty well, but that one I think had to be towed away from the scene.

I sat on the side of the road so filled with gratitude that no one was hurt, that the people who hit us were so nice, that Dave was there to take care of all the details, and especially that that didn’t happen to Grace and her friends a couple days before!

That driver didn’t end up having insurance, dang it, and we’re trying to figure it all out so we’re still driving around a month later with the back of our car fixed up all pretty with duct tape as a reminder.

I know I bemoan the fact that our kids are growing up, and doing it so quickly, but I do also love to watch them grow…to watch them fly.  I love that Grace (and Max) could come meet us.  I love that Grace tucked some more independence under her belt as a result.  
Giving that independence in the right amount with the right timing is always tricky business.  
I”m curious to hear other thoughts on giving independence and helping ourselves “let go” in this world of technology that keeps us so very connected.  There are so many “right ways” to do it.  My sister’s friend who lives on the East Coast decided to send her teenagers with some friends to New York City on a train to have an adventure with no cell phones.  They figured it would be a good trial of independence.  When she first told me that plan my heart clinched up.  What if they got lost?  What if they needed to get in touch with their parents?  What if there was an emergency?  And then I realized that was kind of real life before cell phones.  We didn’t have them and we all survived, right?  Interesting to think of the things we’re so protective of these days, where to let go, and where to step up our protection.  Do we think it through or do we just go with the flow of everyone around us?  
Everyone of course will get different answers, but I love to think outside the box and remember that kids do need to learn and we can’t stay constantly tethered forever and ever, as much as sometimes I wish we could!!
Just some thoughts on a Thursday morning.


  1. Enjoyed reading this and it gave me perspective. My oldest is about to get his license at 16 and I agree that we have to let them be untethered a bit…in due time. I'm glad Grace and friends were safe…so many friends have had teens in terrible accidents in the past year that the driving a long distance is probably the scariest for me.

  2. I think one of the biggest issues I see with that constant tether is a lack of resourcefulness. If my kids have a problem (flat tire, fighting with siblings while I’m gone), they call me to come fix it. I have tile them a few stories of things that happened to me as a kid where I had to figure it out, no cell phone or access to parents. I think the trip to New York City is genius! Maybe more experiences like that for them to teach them creativity and problem solving without instant access to parents and google.

  3. We didn’t have cell phones but we did have ample access to pay phones, phone books and road maps and train and bus schedules in paper form. Those things are not easily available today.

    It’s illegal to not have insurance.

    Is it legal for a minor in AZ to drive in California?

    Why this desire to send your minor kids off yet you spend so much time either visiting your adult daughter or her visiting you her first year in college and you just took your older adult son up to college?

    1. I'm sure it is illegal for that person who hit Shawni to not have insurance, but that doesn't necessarily stop someone from driving anyway. No, it isn't illegal for a minor who is of legal age to drive to drive without a person over 18 to another state. I think experiences eb and flow. There will be times when you spend more time with your children versus not spending time with them. Having children in college is different in itself. They don't live at home anymore. So naturally you would want to travel to see them. Having your minor children have experiences on there own prepares you and them for when home isn't their home base anymore. For when they create there own home. Experiences like this are good. They are needed. They strengthen both the parents and the child.

    2. Different states have rules about minors driving. For instance the graduated license where you can only drive with family or alone. I’d also make sure insurance will cover an accident if the minor child is driving in another state, what if doesn’t get covered because the child doesn’t meet that states requirement and doesn’t consider the license valid. What I’m saying is that a parent may give permission for a child to do things but best check if the community also will allow it. For instance if a minor is driving after curfew their license is no longer valid. If she is driving at midnight through a town that has an 11:30 curfew she could be arrest for driving without a license and violate curfew. She was driving with a car full of girls she isn’t related to. Does that make her license invalid driving in a community where you aren’t allowed such passengers? Are they legally old enough to rent a motel room to sleep if they need to?

    3. KMS – do you really think they just decided to let Grace make the drive without having any of the same thoughts (and finding out the answers) to the same questions you're bringing up here? The Pothiers actually strike me as intelligent, thinking people – I bet they made sure their bases were covered in this area. And, as for the insurance – yes, it's illegal not to have insurance, but the legality of any number of things doesn't stop people from doing things that are illegal. Good grief.

  4. My kids are the similar age as yours and we just went through the same thing with our 17 year old boy. He wanted to go with a group of 5 friends on a canoe trip – 5 hour highway drive, then 5 nights canoeing in the wilderness, no cell access (but they could rent an emergency tracker). They planned it all themselves – with guidance from a knowledgeable Dad who’s done these canoe trips. The whole trip caused some serious stress for the parents – with big debates as to whether they should go or not, especially the driving part. A few parents wanted to drive the boys up there. I was so so nervous (I actually work with people who have head injuries related to car and bike accidents so know the stats all to well). However, I think that although young, some kids are more ready earlier than others, and do really well with some added responsibility which give them experiences that will help them grow. You have to know your kid, and the kids they are with. You help prepare them as best as possible, run through some scenarios, review some solutions to typical problems and send them off with prayers. Yes, accidents happen, but I don’t think we should be driven by fear. Know your kid, support your kid, and trust your kid will make good choices if you’ve invested in them over the years. My son came home having had a fabulous time – not without a couple of adventures, but what a boost in his confidence and independence. (Ps my step daughter just got back from HEFY Dominican and had a fabulous time! I saw Grace in the airport pic with a new group and remembered she was going too! Are you following the group on Instagram? Another awesome experience !)

  5. It's illegal not to have insurance where I'm from; getting caught means a several-thousand-dollar fine, and even jail time if you're caught again.

  6. I wasn’t faulting the Pothiers because the person who rear ended them didn’t have insurance.

    Actually I don’t think they did think it through. I really wonder how many people will copy cat this with their kids not thinking it through.

    1. It blows my mind that you don't think normal, adult people – who have successfully raised their children, mind you – don't have the mindset to think about things (the same way you expect us to suppose you would). WHY is it something that would occur to YOU – but not to anyone else? You are so self important.

  7. I think I am the opposite of most people. My oldest is 17 and she has always proven herself honest and trustworthy. There has been bumps in the toad but she always come to me immediately and we work through it together. Communication is key in my opinion. But we work our way towards that independence. She wanted to drive 6 hours to my parents house. I drove an hour behind to ensure I could be there if needed. She was fine. Now I feel better about her taking longer trips. She knows trust once lost is not easily regained. And soon she will be on her own. I want to guide her from a distance to ensure she can fly alone.

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