My 17-year-old just bought a ticket to go to Mayhem Festival with her friends. Although it makes me nervous, they're going without an adult chaperone. After all, I'm encouraging her to be independent in other ways, expecting her to get a job and her driver's license, but I wonder: should I really be letting my teen go to a rock festival unchaperoned?
I’m glad to know I’m not alone and that Circle of Moms members debate the same thing.
"Our Little Babies Are All Growing Up"
I keep reminding myself that in less than a year, she'll be 18, a legal adult able to make her own decisions about where she goes and with whom, but when I look at her I don't see the young woman who towers inches above my head. In my mind's eye, she's still a little tiny girl who wanted to do everything with mommy.
Mom Christina A. understands the lump in my throat and the tightness in my chest when she says, "I know it's hard to think that our little babies are all growing up now." It is hard. It’s hard to watch my daughter grow into adulthood and let her make her own missteps and decisions.
How to start letting go? Letting Go, One Concert at a Time
Mayhem Fest isn’t my thing, so I have all these crazy images of wild, drunken hardcore rockers dancing in circles around my soft-spoken, mild girl. It’s a pretty unlikely scenario. Like other moms, I’m quelling my fears by making sure she checks in by cell phone during the festival, and I've made sure her rides are all set up.
Truth be told, if I really thought she'd be in danger at this concert, I wouldn't let her go alone with her friends, but I'd help her find a way to be able to go.
Time to Let Her Face Life Without a Chaperone
This isn't just a rock festival, it's a symbol of all the things to come that I have to let her do unchaperoned. Sure, I'm there to guide her along the way, pick up the pieces through her first heartbreak, give her advice she may or may not decide to take, but it's time to let her face life without a constant chaperone. She may be ready, but I’m not sure I am.
But, as one mom named Gillian points out, “About that age you have to start letting go of the reins, they start to take responsibility for themselves. If you have laid good foundations . . . then she will understand that she is responsible for her own actions."
My daughter has a good foundation. It's not her that I worry about; it's all the other people at the concert, all the people in the world around her. For now, though, I’m letting her go into the world unchaperoned, one concert at a time.
I'll be sitting by the phone waiting in case she needs me, but I'm pretty sure she won’t. It's me who needs her to need me.