Recently I was confronted with an issue that tested me as a mom. Anya’s school has a summer program, every Wednesday the kids go on a field trip. This poses a problem. First, she is four years old too young in my opinion to ride on a school bus with no seat belt. I can’t put her in a car without a seat belt so why would I let her ride on a school bus on the DC/MD beltway. Second, they are visiting places with a large number of visitors and tourists in big open spaces. I am not comfortable with the ratio of children to teachers. The last field trip the school had was to the circus so her dad took her in his car. I know that an accident can happen regardless if she is in a bus or car, but at least she is in a car seat. This was a reasonable solution. She could share the experience with her friends, but I had peace of mind that she was with her dad. However, when confronted with this situation, in good consciousness I was unable to agree to these weekly field trips.
Although Anya is only four she realizes her classmates will experience something that she won’t be experiencing and needless to say she was not happy with me! When I sat her down to explain in terms she could understand why I was uncomfortable with her going, she said those words I thought I had years yet to hear, “well, everyone else’s mom is letting them go.”No she didn’t! I then had to gently explain to her as tears rolled down her face, that all moms have different rules for their children and this was my rule. I actually had to say, “There are going to be times when other kids are allowed to do things that you may not be able to do.” After several explanations of why I deemed the field trips unsafe she seemed like she understood, she didn’t like it but she got it.
I struggled with this decision, knowing what it would ultimately be, but still I didn’t want Anya to feel left out. I am a working mom and getting every Wednesday off may have worked except we had a week’s vacation planned. This is when it gets tricky, and single moms out there I am sure you can empathize. I had to approach my boss and ask her if I could work at home, because if Anya didn’t go on the field trip she couldn’t attend school until after 2:00 pm hardly feasible for us. So God willing I will be working from home on Wednesdays until August.
Through this experience I learned, that all moms are different. Many of them had no problem with putting their child on a school bus. It made me question my decision for a moment. Was I being an old paranoid stick in the mud? Was I too overprotective? Didn’t I have faith that God would take care of her? I turned to God and prayed on my decision. I came to the conclusion that I don’t have to parent by anyone else’s standards except for God’s.
When other moms say yes and you say no, don’t feel guilty! Trust your instincts, pray, and do what you believe is best for your child. Don’t judge another mother because she thinks differently, but be confident in your decision. When you say no your kids may be disappointed, but never just say no and not give your reasoning behind it. Early communication with our children is important this is how they learn their boundaries and it builds trust between a parent and child.
Kids need us to be the parent, to use good judgment, and to say no when no needs to be said. It is okay for them to recognize that what is acceptable in some family’s home is not acceptable in theirs. I think Christian families face this dilemma often. Because of our beliefs, there may be many times that your kids won’t be permitted to do what other children are doing. This is when you have to stand firm, even when other mothers try to persuade you (believe me they will). Kindly, explain that this is what you believe is best for your child, without condemning them for their choices. It also teaches kids that following the crowd is not always the acceptable, safe, or right thing to do.
I know Anya would like to be with her friends and ride on a big yellow school bus, but at four it is a definite no. I’ll try to attend a few of the field trips and when she is at home I will schedule some creative activities and maybe sign her up for an hour class to keep her busy. She may still be harboring a little grudge, but I am certain that she knows how much I love her and my love for her in the end will surpass her disappointment. Be your own mom and make choices based in prayer, Christ, and the standards you have for your family.
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