Friday, February 8, 2013

Mother Fears Loosening Apron Strings Will Also Loosen Heartstrings

Dear Tazi:

I am a single mother of a sweet, charming, and all around wonderful little boy. "Billy" is seven years old, and my pride and joy. I have known for quite some time that Billy needs to lose weight, but I always thought he was just a bit husky, and would grow into his weight. This week, I got a letter home from the school nurse; she is concerned about Billy's weight and how it is affecting him socially. Billy is apparently unable to keep up with his friends during athletic time, and is upset about it; he is also getting picked on for it.

Billy's pediatrician has told me that Billy needs to lose about fifteen pounds, which I didn't think sounded like much, but I suppose for a child it is a lot of weight. I have cut down on Billy's sweet treats, replacing them with fresh fruits and low-cal items, but it is obvious that Billy needs more regular exercise. We live in an apartment, so we don't have a yard for him to play in, and I am not comfortable allowing Billy to go to the park after school without trusted adult supervision, and I work full-time, so it is dark by the time I get home.

Billy has been begging me for months now to allow him to walk to and from school with his friends. It is only a half mile each way, and he would be walking with a group of friends, but I am still frightened to allow my son to walk to school! I think he is far too young to undertake such a journey. You read so much about child abductions occurring close to home; I am petrified that something will happen to my son if I allow him to walk to school. Usually, I drive him to school in the morning (my Mom picks him up in the afternoon), and I have to admit, I enjoy the bonding time with my son. Do you think - as my mother says - I am being overprotective of my son, and trying to keep him my "little boy"? Or are my feelings and concerns logical?

Trying My Best

Dear Trying My Best:

Seven years old is a precious age for a mother and her son; he is no longer a little boy, but not yet grown so much that he no longer wants his Mommy around. The problem that you detail is two-fold: as a single mother, you are working full-time to provide financially for you and your son while at the same time trying to carve out one-on-one time with your son. His requests to walk to school with his friends would be a much needed, regular boost to his physical activity but would take away from what little mother-son time the two of you appear to have.

You make no mention of what your neighborhood is like - the inner city; a small suburban neighborhood; or a rural village - but if other boys your son's age are allowed to walk to school in a group, it sounds like a safe environment. With this in mind, I would say that as long as you teach your son to stay with his friends; not to talk to strangers; and to never, ever accept a ride with or leave with an unapproved adult, I don't see a problem with allowing Billy to walk to school with his friends. The extra exercise time will be good for his health, both physical and social.

If you are not quite able to let go of your morning bonding time with your son, you could continue to drive him to school in the morning and allow him to walk home with his friends in the afternoon (weather permitting). Judging from your mother's comments, it sounds like this idea will work for her, too. My only question is, who watches Billy after school? If your mother's house is too far for him to walk to, would she be able to meet him at your apartment to watch him there or drive him home with her? Knowing that someone will be waiting for him when he gets home would keep Billy responsible about coming straight home, and might do a lot to ease your fears about allowing him to walk the short distance that must feel like a million miles to you. Know that loosening the apron strings will not loosen the heartstrings that hold your son close to you.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

No comments:

Post a Comment