Getting the Green Light

I’ve spent the last 6 years as a parent trying to encourage my little boy to be confident to try new things, to make decisions and be independent, and to ask questions if he doesn’t understand stuff. Over the last couple of months he has decided that he is confident to cross the road on his way to school without waiting for me to be with him. We have spent most mornings up until this point learning about crossing the road – he has always been involved with the decision to go or not.  The fact that he did this one morning off his own back meant I was too far away to do anything (he would always whizz off ahead and then wait for me to cross).

My initial reaction was to tell him to stop and wait for me because it’s dangerous. Much of me wanted to be within arms reach next time, just in case.

I resisted doing either though because he’s only gone and done exactly what I’ve been trying to encourage him to do! (Note: It’s a minor road not a dual carriageway, a mistake would result in a honk rather than a crash).

I did ask him questions. “How did you know it was safe to cross?”, “What did you do before crossing the road?”, “Why is this important?”.   I’m happy he understands what he is doing and why he is doing it, and so feel happy he will be OK.  In many ways he is safer on his own because he concentrates rather than relying on me to prompt his decision if we are there together.  Some would say the responsibility has been shifted – it is now his rather than mine.

The challenge now is working out what to say to those who give me death stares as the boy whizzes off on his own, in order to convince them I’m not “neglectful dad”.

About the Author: Stephen Pritchard

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