I don’t want my kids to grow up too fast and, as long as I can have a say over what they do, I'll attempt to guide them
THE mum-of-four talks family life in her weekly column. Today Peta, who is married to Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish, talks teenage boundaries…
SOCIAL media, gangs and knife crime are just three of the terrifying issues us parents fret about. Every headline and newsflash makes me want to hold my children’s hands tighter and tighter.
I feel like expensive phones, and always being “switched on”, has made this generation of kids more vulnerable than before. But we can’t hold on to our young ones too tight, or for ever.
It scares the living daylights out of me to think that I am the mother of a 13-year-old boy. It hardly seems two minutes since I was that age.
I am never more aware of how quickly Finnbar and my other children are growing up than during school holidays.
I see them less. They want to be with their friends more, have social calendars full to the brim and are less excited by the Easter egg hunt I lay on.
I remember thinking I knew it all at 13 – and wanted to be out of the house and away from the prying eyes of nagging adults just out to ruin my fun.
I despaired at the rules and stipulations put in place to hinder my freedom, the boxes that needed ticking and assurances that needed to be met before I could vanish.
What was everyone making such a big deal of? What could go wrong?
Ready for the world
That innocence you have as a child is how it should be. At 13, you shouldn’t be weighed down by thoughts of dangers that could lurk around every corner.
But at the age of 32, as a mother of four children, I am constantly looking for that safe line – that border between protecting my brood from the world and giving them the room to spread their wings.
I am the eldest child in my family and so I know how poor Finnbar feels. Everything is stricter for the firstborn. As a parent, you’re learning on the job and finding boundaries you are comfortable with.
When I was young, I’m sure my parents felt the changing pace of the world was scarier than when they grew up, and now I feel the same.
My motto is that Finnbar should always ask if he wants to go some-where or do something – even if the answer may be a no. At least then I can explain my reasoning.
Sometimes the answer is non-negotiable and sometimes we can compromise, as he needs a chance to build trust and confidence.
I don’t want my children to grow up too fast and, as long as I can have a say over what they do, where they go and who with, I can attempt to guide them.
I also want them ready for the world and able to face it without fear. Giving them knowledge is giving them power.
I do my best to swallow the fear that washes over you as a parent as you let them take steps along their own path – with you a few paces behind, there to catch them if they fall.
I get a feeling that whether they are three, 13 or 43, the worry will never go away. So I hope my crew is ready to have me sitting three rows behind them in the cinema for the rest of their lives.
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