An Ugly Truth

I was (mostly) kidding about not wanting smart kids.  Here’s a stickier dilemma:

This weekend our city had a “touch a truck” event so that kids could see a firetruck, garbage truck, police car, etc. up close.  Raisin’s favorite was the firetruck, including a female firefighter who asked Raisin if she “wanted to be a big girl firefighter.”  Raisin did.

Now, when I was about Raisin’s age, I wanted to be a taxi driver, which I am not now and have never been, so I know it’s a little early to be worried about her career choices.  Still, the moment gave me cause to think: what will I do if she does want to become a firefighter?

Firefighters are noble and brave, which are characteristics I would love to nurture in my kids.  They also run into burning buildings and climb huge ladders and stand on roofs that collapse and send them plummeting to their deaths.  [Firefighter offspring + worrywart mother =  heart attack.]

When I was 22, I considered joining the Peace Corps.  My mother hated the idea.  My mom and I rarely fight, but that one was a doozy.  I was a grown up (kinda), and I was the one who decided not to go — I can’t “blame” it on my mom.  Nevertheless, the incident left me with the impression that she didn’t fully trust me to make a good choice.

Maybe a wise mother makes sure her kids are considering all the angles, and then she just has to shut up?  There’s a fine line between parental guidance and talking kids out of something you don’t want them to do, I suppose, once they are old enough to make their own decisions.  If I had to, I hope I could let Raisin fight fires, or go to Africa for a year.

But, then, what if Apple wants to be a police officer?  What if he will carry a gun, and possibly use it to take a life?

What if Orange comes home with an Army recruitment brochure?  What if she believes it’s her duty to fight for her country, even at the behest of a president like the one we have now?

How much maternal influence would I wield then?  Assuming my kids would be susceptible to my powers of persuasion, what weapons would I use to keep them from a decision I didn’t want to support?  I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I’d be willing to destroy my relationship with my kids, so how far would I go?

What would you do?

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About Grape

I've got the world's best kids and husband. Great house, steady job. I'm living the American dream. The trick is to appreciate it. I'm working on that part.
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2 Responses to An Ugly Truth

  1. Erin says:

    Depends on the kid. An intelligent, responsible kid who knows what she (he) wants? You have to let them do it, even if you disagree. An impressionable, irresponsible kid who changes her mind like she changes her pants? Talk her out of whatever crackpot scheme she’s up to.

    I have the exact same worries about my girls. The Bear is definitely too smart for her own good (and my peace of mind).

  2. Chris says:

    I figure at least one of my kids is going to follow a more dangerous path, given that my partner is a Paramedic and the universe has a wicked sense of humor.

    So I’ve thought about this a lot and I think the only thing I can do is sit down with them and discuss it like rational human beings. If they truly understand the risks involved and have a good reason for doing it (something other than “I can’t think of anything better to do”) then I have to step back and let them make their own decisions.

    My mom is going through this right now with my sister – she’s signed up to join the Navy Reserve as a Corpsman in December. My mom is terrified she’s going to get deployed to Iraq. They’ve discussed it quite a few times, and basically she’s decided she has to let her do what she wants to do, but she’s still entitled to worry as much as she wants.

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