This week we had a lot firsts. First time the twins had a real, actual job, first time they drove to their job, first time Caileigh volunteered at a secular conference ( it was a super cool Space Symposium) by herself. All of these firsts make me a little nervous and I find myself praying over them a lot. Especially for Caileigh. She’s the only female at the Robotics company (her brothers both work there so it’s fine) and she was walking in to Volunteer in a place where I don’t know anyone. As a Mom of a beautiful 16 year old, this gives me a pause. Letting them go into the world means some anxious moments, but there are some things I felt really good about.

1. Talking honestly about the world. We have tried to be honest about the world in age appropriate conversations. It is a scary place and our kids need to know that and be prepared.

2. Teach them respect for themselves. We have had conversations from when they were young about appropriate behavior of others and how they were “the bosses” of their body and their hearts. No one should be allowed to infringe upon that. No one. And if anyone tried, they should speak up and tell.

3. Pay attention to their surroundings. As a daughter of a law officer, I was always told to pay attention to my surroundings. Know where the exits are, keep an eye on anyone acting oddly, and know where the authorities in the room were. I still sit where I can see the doors and scope out all the exits in every movie theatre and mall.

4. Be with them. I never left my kids with anyone, including church, sports, clubs or camps unless I either sat with them or I knew the people in charge until they were old enough to handle themselves. Don’t be cowed by the fact that none of the other parents do that, it’s your responsibility to know that your kids are in good hands. There were times that my kids were not, and I bustled them out of there and then got supervisors involved.

5. Teach them self-defense. I was never so glad of the 6 years Caileigh had in karate until this week when I watched her walk into a conference by herself in her professional clothes and high heels. I took great peace knowing that if anyone tried anything, she has the skills to flip them over her head or take them to the ground. I know that sounds violent and a little unloving towards others, but I want her to be able to defend herself. I had to when I was young, and it gave me great confidence. Our boys also know how to defend themselves and others. You would never know to look at my computer loving, engineer geeks but a bully once tried to push Connor and found himself on the ground with Connor over him telling him, “I warned you not to try it.” We had a great sensei who always instructed them to try words first and taught them to be fierce with their words and tone long before they resorted to force, which we appreciated. He once said that Caileigh was the scariest little thing he had ever encountered, she could go from adorable little blonde to frightening little monster in 2 seconds flat. I have to say that I found that reassuring as I watched her walk into a conference room with all adults by herself.

Just as I prep them for college and career academically so that they can step in confidently, I think we need to prepare them for the reality of the world. We will not be able to walk beside our kids forever and we need to be wise enough to teach them the skills they need.

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