The Importance of Letting Children Travel without Parents
Your child has been invited on a trip with relatives or family friends and this might be the first time they have gone somewhere without your family. Parents are probably wondering if their child will suddenly become homesick and what the appropriate age is to let them go on their own vacation.
The Legal Age to let your child fly alone is 13
If a friend invites them to go to a family cottage in the woods for a week, then it’s up to your child and both sets of parents to work out the details. If your child feels safe with their family, they are going to know you would never put them in an unsafe situation and kids as young as 7 and 8 are going on outings and vacations without their parents. This is good for children because they gain more confidence and learn independence when their parents aren’t around for the time that they are gone. They can always call you because now technology is so advanced, smartphones have good reception just about anywhere. You can always encourage them to write to you by email or send a letter or postcard.
When your child begins to advance in their grade levels or even start college, the reality hits parents that their child is growing up. Parents have to realize it’s time to cut some of the apron strings that were held onto since your child was born. Many parents suffer anxiety that they didn’t prepare for when their child leaves them for the first time. Some call it the empty nest syndrome if the child is older, while others might be confused when the child is younger and grieve somewhat because their baby left for the week.
This event is easier said than done when it’s time for parents to face the facts that their child needs more independence. Many things can be hard for parents to give up and that includes, breastfeeding, a child going away without their family, going to college or getting married. Parents feel many mixed emotions that they begin to realize they should have prepared for. You have to let your child grow up and cut them some slack as they get older. Keep them on a short leash and extend it every year that they are one year older, or you might end up with a child who is too afraid to leave home.
Parents go through their own fears and wonder if they are letting them go too soon, have they given them enough advice on the world? Do they feel their child is still too fragile and try to rein in any independence? Then they start worrying and blaming themselves if something happens or might happen so parents fear to let go. Some parents can’t bear to let their child leave but this is not a healthy approach. Other parents depend on their children and think there is no reason they have to leave because the house is large enough.
The teen years are going to be hard for parents because you don’t have the control you used to have over your kids. Your children are out making their own decisions and that is what you want them to do. Children during their teen years start becoming less dependent on their parents and sometimes less affectionate.
Parents should think about what is holding them back and why when it comes to letting their kids go. You need to think about your feelings and decide what exactly is preventing you from letting them go explore the world. You are only human so parents have to face their fears and conquer them as well. This requires using your own critical thinking skills. Parents don’t realize that they start depending on their children to be around and are worried that the bond they have will be broken. If you have created a strong enough bond with your child, the bond will never be broken. This is what is holding parents back and they start causing grief in their own personal and professional lives from dwelling on this all the time.
Some parents don’t trust babysitters so they never leave them with one until the child is older. Some parents call their kids constantly if they are in college or go and visit them in daycare too frequently. Parents lose out on vacationing or going out and socializing because they feel they can’t trust anyone with their children. Parents have tough times when they realize that their child has intimate feelings they discuss with their friends instead of with their parents.
Some parents constantly feel guilty because they feel they haven’t done their best and they become overwhelmed because they experience ongoing internal struggles. Parents have to realize that their child will never experience any greater love than the love from their parents. They grow up and understand all the sacrifices you made for them and how you were always there to care and protect them. A parent shows unconditional love no matter what and their child loves them back but it goes back to that love bond, the parents are afraid of breaking.
It’s quite normal to feel this way for parents considering all the violence that has happened in schools and colleges across our nation, so parents are in constant fear. Parents have to face these fears and realize if you put this much time into your child, they should be very confident and independent and ready for their own lives by the time they graduate high school. If they have a chance to go overseas and become an exchange student in high school, find out what required paperwork is needed and work through the schools because they know all the ropes and these families are investigated extensively, so why ruin a good chance for your child because you can’t let go?
Here are some tips to help parents if they are having problems making the right decisions about letting their child go away without them. Set some boundaries for both you and your spouse and let your child have some space. Let your child learn from their mistakes, trust in yourselves and realize you taught them a good belief and value system. Give yourself some credit and tell yourself you did your best when you raised your children. Consider this another transition in life when you start to let go because you are doing this for your child. This is another stepping stone in the growth process for both of you. When your child starts getting older, teach them to be less dependent and more independent and turn your relationship around with your child. Teach them that now it’s time they realize that your relationship with them is more about respect, pride and the fact that they are now a grown adult that is capable of making the right decisions.