After many years of working on self-reliance skills, I am comfortable leaving my son home alone. Recently when I got home, he met me at the door with news that the internet was out. The television worked but the home phone and internet did not. Since they’re all with the same provider – it didn’t make sense.
I tried to resolve the problem on my own but had to call the company. It turned out that we needed a new modem. Within a few days, the technician came, and everything was fixed.
I told my son how proud I was of him. He didn’t call and interrupt my work to tell me the internet wasn’t working. In the past, he would have called me multiple times in a panic because he couldn’t get online.
In his world, that was an emergency and I should stop whatever I was doing to resolve it. He expected that I should come home immediately, figure out what the problem was, and take immediate steps to get it fixed. A home without internet access is not tolerated in my son’s world. I’ve also received calls informing me that we are out of waffles, crackers, and Cheetos.
When I praised him for being patient and waiting for me to come home to tell me about the internet, I was floored by his response. “I couldn’t call you because the home phone wasn’t working,” he said. I took a breath and reminded him that he could have called me from his cell phone if there had been an emergency. He just looked at me with a blank stare and replied, “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.”
But what if it had been a real emergency?
It concerns me that he didn’t even think to use his cell phone. He knows that the home phone and cell phone come from different companies. They are not dependent on each other. Yet when the internet failed, those details escaped him. When anxiety sets in, solutions and coping skills do not come easily for him.
I’m very glad that there was no emergency this time but do wonder what will happen next time. Life is full of surprises and we all need to learn the appropriate response. I have a feeling my son and I will be working on these skills for a very long time.
See Helping Your Child Build Their Independence for tips and ideas on developing skills needed to be a more independent and responsible adult.