So if you’re a helicopter, hyper-politically-correct, perfect parent – don’t read this. This is for all you normal folks out there
I love my son to the moon and back, 20 times over. He is just amazing. My wife and I are totally in love with him. But we also realise that for this to work for Finn – we need to first and foremost have a healthy, loving relationship. And just to be clear, I am not suggesting we are the perfect couple, because I don’t believe anyone is. If we end up spending every waking moment committed to Finn then we won’t have the time needed to devote to each other. ‘Couple time’ is a real thing, and an essential ingredient for a functional relationship. Divorce is ugly, trust me, no kid wants to experience that. And yes, some couples are better not together, but I think every relationship needs work. It needs input. It requires good old-fashioned time and effort.
From about five or six months old, Lisa and I decided to take the leap of faith and let Finn have a sleep over with auntie Donna and uncle Jason – and it was the best decision for Finn, but also for us. Now, hand on heart, I will be honest – the first time he was sleeping over I cried. Yep, you heard me right. I missed the little dude! But I saw him the next day and he wasn’t phased – he had an amazing night and didn’t miss us one bit. He also developed a wonderful bond with people other than us. We feel this is such a valuable part of Finns upbringing. The world is populated by humans. A vital part of living a happy life is being able to love other humans, interact with others and respect others. We know some parents who have 12-year-olds who have not had a night away from them. And yes, a small percentage of these people might not have an option – but a large percentage of these people just don’t want to let go. They want their little darlings to stay in the nest for the first 30 years of their lives. But let’s get real – giving your child the opportunity to be independent of you from the earliest possible time is a positive thing. Don’t you want to give them the opportunity sooner rather than later? Some studies show children who don’t have parent-free time with family/friends on a regular basis before the age of 10 show higher signs of anxiety, dependence and are more likely to struggle with forming long-term friendships or relationships. Interesting, right?! You can come to your own conclusion, but for me – Finn deserves to have his independence from us.
Now, to look at it from a parent angle. We need our independence from our kids too. I see too many parents who are dependent on their kids. Yep, for real. Give your head a good shake if you’re one of these parents.
Lisa and I decided to go to the next level… For her birthday last December we booked a romantic trip to the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. Just the two of us. Little Finn – he had a grand old time with auntie Donna and uncle Jason. We FaceTimed every day, and the little dude was having so much fun he couldn’t care less that we were not there. We had the greatest time at the beautiful Coco Beach resort (thanks to Brenda Ogilvie at Mondo travel for arranging it all) – sipping cocktails, reading books, watching sunsets and generally reconnecting. It was pure magic. Variety is the spice of life – and as couples – we need to keep our relationships the number one priority. If we have a solid foundation, our kids will have a much better platform upon which to build positive relationships with others. How often do you hear of a girl marrying or dating a guy who is chauvinist, aggressive and selfish only to find out that her dad was the same type of guy. Whether you like it or not – the relationship you have with your partner will be a model for your children and their future relationships. Being that clingy, smothering, overprotective helicopter parent will not give your child an opportunity to build resilience and character. Balance is the key – make sure you find that balance. We are all different, and that’s what keeps our world interesting. Please let our world continue to be diverse – start by letting your children use their noses to sniff out the exciting things in life. Encourage them to take risks. Be their parent – not their master. Now, go pour yourself a brewski and catch up with your partner.