Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who's the Boss?

Yesterday while Leah, Olivia and I were sitting down for a simple supper we chatted about the day. There was talk of the slip-n-slide fun, how hot it was all day long, hope for a visit to the pool tomorrow and how much popcorn and Kool-Aid is a great combination. We were all quiet for a moment then Olivia looks up at me with a very serious expression. I could tell what was coming out of her mouth would be important. She asked me "How old will I be when I can be the boss of me?"

When questions like this are asked it is very difficult for me to maintain composure. I know I cracked a smile but I managed to hold it together to answer her concern. I could tell that this was an important topic one she had been thinking about very carefully. My answer of when she had her own money, job and home was not the best way to explain the topic of adult independence. I over simplified the answer forgetting who I was talking to. At first she understood it to mean "So when I get my own money I can be the boss of me?" Then I could see the wheels turning in her head, a plan was 'a brewin' and it could end up pretty wacky when my 7 year old is the one behind it. She told me how much money she had saved and inquired about a specific amount that must be reached to cash out her independence. Before she could start negotiating her own being the Boss of Me plan I had to explain what I meant by having her own money. First I pointed out that until she turned 18 by law Mom and Dad get to be the Boss of her so that means she has to graduate High School. Then I told her that once Mom and Dad quit paying for her needs that she could be her own boss. I presented a list of examples making it clear what I meant by when Mom and Dad quit paying for her stuff. She understood this completely. I thought the topic was done until She asked another good question "How old were you when you got to be the boss of you?" The answer: after college graduation. I told her how I had a job, my own apartment, paid for insurances and my college tuition bills. In sum financially independent.

Her last question :"How come other Moms are still the boss of their grown-up kids?" stumped me for a moment. I didn't have a good response for this one, I'll admit this is an excellent question. My only answer was that sometimes parents have a hard time not being parents. Parents will always want to keep you safe and happy and sometimes just forget that they can't be the boss of their kids forever. Though I did mention how some Moms, like mine, were not so Bossy. I described how as I became older and in college she was a source of guidence, giving suggestions but not specific demands. I mentioned that this is what I hoped would happen with them. Wow that was some supper conversation. I never expected to have this discussion at such a young age. I am glad it happened. I was able to point out our expectations as parents for the girls. Things such as responsibility and money are often neglected topics. Though it was our first attmept at addressing this it will not be the last. My hope is that by talking about this the girls will learn early on how to be independent and that we won't have to always be the Boss of them.

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