Dear RND: My wife and I are having a disagreement, and we would like your opinions. We have two daughters, 15 and 10. For spring break, my wife's parents offered to fly the girls out to visit them in Arizona. We both have work issues so neither of us can get take time off for spring break. It is a non-stop direct flight, and we would both take them to O'Hare and my wife's mother would be at the other end to pick the girls up. I think it is a great idea, and my wife thinks it is unsafe and is not comfortable sending our two girls alone to Arizona. What are your opinions?
Rose: What do the girls want? Let's assume they would be thrilled for this opportunity. Being a mother myself I understand wanting to keep the girls safe, but it's not like you're sending them off to skydive. Children do travel on planes and make it safely. What happens in a year when your one daughter is able to drive? Or in a few more years when she wants to go to college? How will your wife and the girls survive those situations? Also, it's not your daughter's job to make their mother feel comfortable emotionally, that's her job. But you can certainly help your wife work through her own fears. Suggest she discuss possible scenarios with your daughters. "If grandma wasn't at the gate, what would you do first?" She certainly can prepare them for any emergency. It's so much more valuable to teach your daughters how to protect themselves then just to protect them.
When parenting, you want to always come from love, not fear. Your fears may have nothing to do with your daughter's abilities but when you come from fear, you are stating you have not faith in them or their capabilities or your own parenting skills for that matter. It is your job to prepare your children for adulthood. You can't do that if you don't allow them opportunities to grow and practice at it before they turn 18.
D: It's not like they can get off at the wrong stop. I say, if your girls are completely confident and comfortable with traveling with out you and/or your wife then send them, and let them gain a sense of responsibility, independence and adventure, but only if your girls our truly comfortable with this. If they are, you can look into unaccompanied minor service for the airline that you are using. It may be free for your 10-year-old, but there may be a charge each way for your 15-year-old. This does depend on the airline. With Grandma being on the other end to receive them, you know that they will be in safe hands! And if your wife still boo-hoos the trip, you can always hire 2 advice columnists to accompany your daughters to Arizona and back ... just sayin'.