While we were sitting at the table, Karin told us that she thought we'd done a really good job of raising her and Martin and praised us for not being "curling" parents (which is the Scandinavian term for helicopter parents or whatever hovering, protective parents are called nowadays...it refers to the sport of curling and the players' frantic attempts to smooth their way forward*). She works at the elementary school in our village, and says ALL the parents are curling parents, calling and emailing constantly to get preferential treatment for their kids or complain because they didn't get it, when they're entitled. Anders and I looked at each other and laughed.
She said we always put them in social situations with adults, from a young age, so that they both grew up being able to have adult conversations and that we always allowed them to be independent (apart from forcing them to turn on "find my iphone" when they were teenagers) and make mistakes and learn things the hard way, and be bored. I felt quite proud of us while she was talking! And I defended the "find my iphone" years (which, sssh, don't tell her, but we still have that...and not because of just wanting to keep track of them, but because it gives me comfort to be able to see where my kids are, especially the one that is so far away, in Detroit...I can see that he's at home or at work, and I can see that Karin is at her girlfriend's or whatever, and it allows me to leave them alone and not call and ask them when they'll be home—sorry, long tangent) because, as Karin, admitted, she behaved badly back then and it was only fair that we'd have some kind of check on where she was, and presumably what she was doing and with whom. We never really stopped her or Martin from going anywhere, as long as we had some idea of where they were.
We also talked about how she often spends a lot of time talking to her friends' parents, and really enjoys it, and appreciates what we gave her: that confidence to talk to anyone. We got cheated a bit in that department, because none of our kids' friends ever really talked to us like that. I think they're intimidated by me and thinking they have to speak English, but Karin says it's also because they were never around here that much...Flyinge isn't exactly on the beaten path and when our kids were in high school, they tended to hang out with with friends at THEIR houses, not ours.
She says part of it is that she also helps out and cleans up after herself if she's had dinner at a friend's house, something none of her friends do. I said it was because she could tell I had my eye on her about that, no matter what, and she laughed. I'm glad to know that she offers to clear the table or wash dishes or whatever, when she's been a guest at someone's home. It's one of the things that when I hear it makes me feel like we did a good job after all, on raising our kids...which I already knew, because my kids are great.
We also made them do chores from a very early age, and required them to get up and help when asked, and to pitch in when needed WITHOUT asking. We made them clean their rooms, and earn an allowance instead of just receiving it. We taught them to say please and thank you, and to write thank you letters for birthdays and Christmas (which I hope they're still doing). Our standard answer when asked questions was often "use your head" or "what do you think?" which made them roll their eyes, but also made them figure things out for themselves, too.
Next weekend, she's moving home again from the apartment she was renting in Malmö with a friend, for various reasons. She still has to pay rent for a couple of months, though, unless a replacement is found to take her room. Good thing I never moved my treadmill into her empty bedroom, eh? Even when she's "home", she's not home that much, so I'm not too worried about her getting on our nerves, even though we were starting to get used to empty nesting...and I guess it will be good practice for us, for however long it lasts, since Martin is planning to move home next year and she'll be hopefully starting university next fall regardless.
Anyway, I'm glad to hear that I'm not a helicopter or a curler, and that both my children are doing a great job of adulting, all thanks to us. *pats self on back and smiles smugly at husband*
*In the UK, they're called lawnmower parents! Here's an interesting article about all the different terms for different types of parenting.