Leaving The Nest

I have a two-year-old. He's intellectually mature, very verbal, typically independent, tall. Some days he's two going on four.

This post is not about comparing my two year old to yours. Let's not do that! Every child grows at a different pace.

What I would like to discuss is when you think your child is ready to "leave the nest". You know, go to a Sabbath or Sunday school class by themselves, or a Children's church. Or be dropped off at a friend's house to play. How about swimming lessons or gymnastics? Do you stay with your child or watch from afar?

When is your child ready to leave the little nest where mommy's protective wings are close? Should they make the move when they are ready? Do they need a little push?


I have had a couple of experiences lately that inspired this post.

Kindergym -- a program taught by local university students; designed for ages 3-5; meant to prepare young children for further gymnastics lessons. Peter gave it a try on Monday. But he didn't show the independence and courage I had been hoping for.

Yes, in this case, I wanted him to try something new, with mommy watching (not holding his hand). I wanted him to follow directions from another adult and learn to do things that might seem hard!

But, based on his clingy, shy and nervous behavior (uncharacteristic), I decided it wasn't a good fit at this time.

Maybe the curriculum isn't exactly age-appropriate? Perhaps. Maybe I should have pushed him "out of the nest" a little? I don't think so.

Preschool Praise -- a program designed by dedicated members of our church for ages 1-5; developed to give parents the opportunity to listen to the sermon "kid-free" while children are in a positive learning environment, exploring spiritual topics that are age-appropriate. I took Peter down to give it a try on Sabbath. He seemed to do just fine. It was MOM that didn't do so well.

Yes, in this case, as much as I wanted him to flap his wings and do well in an environment with other children and different caregivers, I felt really sad! I wanted to stay with him, to make sure he obeyed, to make sure he didn't get bullied, to make sure he was cared for.

Helicopter mom?? :)

Based on my gut, I decided that the program just isn't right for our family. I want to share church with my children. I get more out of the service when it is a shared experience. I think Peter values the time spent on mommy's lap, listening. Or maybe the time spent driving cars quietly(!) on the pew. I certainly do.


So I won't be pushing my child very hard. I think he does need to strengthen his wing muscles. Definitely. But he'll move out when he's ready. =) And we'll keep deciding what's appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

For now, he's safely snuggled beneath mommy's wing.