Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Too much too young

Last night, embroiled in yet another 'revision v XBox' row with my 15-year-old son, it suddenly hit me. It hit me again when he slammed the front door shut on his way out after I had got up at 6.45am and carefully prepared his packed lunch and breakfast to sustain him for the day ahead. Why am I bothering?

In three years time he will be 18, an adult. He is a bright boy, he will (hopefully) be going off to uni, before embarking on the career of his choice. Having wrapped him up in layers and layers of the softest cotton wool for most of his life, maybe it's time to let go and send him out to do battle with the wolf, Spartan style.

Or maybe I should simply abdicate all parental responsibility entirely. Which, apparently, was the decision made by little Alfie Patten's mum Nicola, because at 13, Alfie is a father, barely able to look after himself, let alone his offspring.

Being a good mum doesn't end when they are weaned and potty-trained. It doesn't end when they're old enough to get the bus on their own. It doesn't even end when they start shaving. Yes, you have to let them grow up, give them freedom to make their own decisions and find their own way. But letting them father a child when they're still a child themselves is not freedom. It's neglect.

As I look at my son's bedroom carpet, strewn with sweet wrappers, pyjamas and comics, it hits me again. He may be a man soon, but for the time being at least, he still needs his mum.

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