Release: 1. To set free from confinement, restraint, or bondage: released the prisoners. 2. To free from something that binds, fastens, or holds back; let go: released the balloons; released a flood of questions. 3. To dismiss, as from a job.

Before you read this post I would just like to start it by saying that it is not as polished as my posts normally are. It was written when I was very upset and from the heart. Apologies if there are errors!

As many of you who read my blog or follow me on Twitter will know, this weekend I went away, all myself. It was an amazing weekend, but this post is not about Britmums Live (that one is still yet to be written!) This post is about leaving your children, and that because of something terrifying which happened to my 12 year old daughter whilst I was away, it has got me thinking about releasing them. About how they cannot stay close beside us forever, and that one day they will be out there on their own, knowing that home is always a safe environment to which they can return.

I have left my children before, many a time. I think it’s a wonderful thing for them to know that they can be looked after and loved by many different people. (Obviously these people are family, or a very close friend and not complete and utter strangers!) This weekend, however, leaving my children was a bit different. My mum came up on Friday to look after the boys and my daughter whilst my husband was at work, and then on Saturday they tagged teamed it and supported each other. Finally, later on Saturday afternoon, my daughter wasn’t going to be a home at all. She had been invited to a sleepover for a school friend’s 12th birthday party and would be away from home herself, in a house I have never been to, with a parent I have only met briefly on a couple of occasions.

I imagine many of you out there with brand new babies or very young children are now sat reading this horrified, as I would’ve been many years ago. We are so used to our children being right by our sides, or on our hips, always close. We are used to being in control of who they see, what they eat, where they go. We forever scan rooms, pathways, parks, play areas for potential risks and danger…catching them when they fall, warning them not to stray too far, telling them where the danger is and how to avoid it. They trust that the world is a safe place, never aware of risks because we spend our lives as parents protecting them from them. However, as children grow up…we need to release them. We need to start helping them to make their own decisions, weigh up the risks and decide what to do and which path to take. They physically become further away from us…at pre-school, at primary school, secondary school. We cannot be around to protect them every single minute of every single day as we so desperately want to and we have to trust that they have listened to years of advice and draw on their experiences in life to make their own choices.

But this weekend my daughter had a choice made for her by another person. And it was the wrong choice. It wasn’t life changing or life threatening. It wasn’t hurtful or dangerous. But it wasn’t her choice, and if it had been it would not have been one she would have made. At the sleepover, whilst I was over a hundred miles away in London unable to help or protect, she was made to watch a film. A film intended to only be watched by persons of 15 years or older. A thriller that scared her more than anything has ever scared her before. I didn’t know this had happened until I awoke this morning to find a text from her on my phone. It had been sent at 4am and simply read…

I want it go home. I watched a scary movie it was a 15 and I can’t go to sleep. I feel sick because I am worried that someone is going to hurt me.

I imagined my daughter, my only just turned 12 daughter, my daughter who is still very much a child, sat terrified all alone. Alone in a house she had never been to before. Alone in a room with some other 12 year olds she didn’t know, and only a few she did. Alone and terrified that someone was coming to get her, to hurt her. She is, as I have described in previous posts, sometimes a handful, sometimes verbally challenging and rule bending, but she is my little girl. She isn’t wise beyond her years, she isn’t ‘street-wise’ and ahead of the game, she hasn’t even begun to go through puberty herself. She is my baby and someone has made a decision that has rocked her safe and secure world.

It’s been a difficult day since then. Obviously I have wanted to race around there and pick her up immediately whilst shouting very loudly at the parent who allowed this to happen whilst she was in her care, but I’m not entirely sure my daughter would appreciate that! So she is still there now, shopping with them on the high street, not fearing the film in the safety of daylight. I’m not sure bedtime or the middle of the night will be so fearless for her later.

And me. Well I have spent the day thinking once again about parenting. I said to my mum on Friday that my instincts were uncomfortable about the sleepover, that I knew something would happen even though I wasn’t sure what. I’d met the girl whose birthday it was, and her mother, and many of the other children that would also be there and thought I was just being over-protective, being a parent who didn’t want to let their child have the independence they so desperately need at this age. What happened to her has made me think about the future and how in a few years time I will not always know where she is, or who she is with or what she is doing. It has made me realised that soon many decisions will be solely hers and I will have no control over that. That one day she will move out and be released into the big wide world…where someone might come along and make bad choices for her, hurt her, terrify her.

It was only a film I hear some of you cry, it’s not like someone really did come and hurt her and you are absolutely right. That film still terrified her and she cannot un-see what she saw, she cannot forget what she heard, and I’m angry that she didn’t get a choice in the matter. Whether or not she watched that film was not someone else’s choice to make, it shouldn’t have been their decision to let my daughter watch a film totally unsuitable for her, not least because she is three years younger than the film’s rating. I’m upset because it made me realise that she’s slowly being released already…slowly having to learn to make decisions herself and learn to be brave enough to walk away from the wrong ones. I know she won’t always make the right choices, or take the best path in life, hell I’ve made some shite choices in my time, but I hope I’ve brought her up to think things through, to make informed decisions…and more importantly than anything…to trust her instincts.


39 thoughts on “Release

  1. Ooh, that’s hard. I have younger children and the thought of letting go terrifies me! Eldest has had a sleepover with Beaver’s, but I fully trusted the leader’s. I agree with you completely, it’s all about teaching them and showing them the right way and then trusting. Not at all easy though. Hope your daughter’s OK.

  2. I guess all we can do is bring them up to make sensible choices (most of the time) and hope for the best. But you’re right, the idea of ever letting my babies out of sight sends shivers down my spine, fortunately we’ve a few years to go yet.

  3. I imagine it must be really hard to watch and ‘release’, especially when they are confronted with things in the world that are not so savoury and knowing that they will slowly lose their innocence. Does it make it harder if you have a daughter? I’ve got all this to go through. Good luck! x

  4. this happened to my little brother (aged 11) at a sleepover too, I remember my mum being livid and phoning the parent responsible up. Unfortunately he did have nightmares for a while after (it was that movie where the dolls come alive?) hope your daughter puts it behind her. I would be so angry too. My mother in law never let any of her 3 daughters go to sleepovers, they just weren’t allowed. I was thinking of implementing this same rule as from my experience girls sleepovers never went well, always ended in some drama!

    • Oh yes, girly sleepovers are always a bit crazy, but usually because they’ve smudged their nail varnish or eaten too many sweets. Am not sure about a ban, but am definitely thinking about it…

  5. This is terrible, and my heart really goes out to you. I’d once heard that the ratings on films etc. aren’t the “age at which it’s suitable to watch”, rather, it’s the “age at which you’re old enough to make the judgement whether you should watch it or not”. Clearly the parent in charge not only made the wrong judgment (on your daughter’s behalf), but I think (if you’ll allow me to say it…) abused your trust.

    I’ve had a good rant in the past about so-called child carers and grandparents who really just don’t do a good enough job; at the end of the day, the only people who are ever good enough is mother and father. Their love and care is truly genuine, but sadly sometimes we’re in positions when we really can’t get out of entrusting our children to others. *growl*. I guess all we can do is to do our best to teach our children and hope that they make the right decisions and choices for themselves.

    Hope your daughter feels better soon!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, us I do feel like my trust was abused a bit. It is definitely about teaching our children to hopefully make the right choices…and reassure them that we are always here for them when they need us. 🙂

  6. This is terrible! – I think your reaction is completely justified. I would want to shout and scream at whoever was in charge, but as you say, you cannot undo what is done. Sadly, there will be times like this where things are out of our control, but it is so important to ‘release’ them, to let them grow into the individuals they are meant to be. But it doesn’t mean you stop wanting to protect them forever. That’s just being a Mum, and never changes. I hope she is feeling a bit better about it all and that the images she saw will fade with time xx

  7. Oh I really feel for you. My little sister is 12 and only last year was able to watch Doctor Who without being scared. My brother now 18 watched horror movies with friends at a youbg age but he was much tougher than any of us. My mums ex husband used to watch inappropriately scary tv shows like xfiles when I was little and now I can’t sleep with the lights out and have panic attacks if Joe is away over night. If you can I find watching the making of a scary movie interesting and helpful, my friend made the props for Human Centipede and when I watched it I was able to disconnect my fear and remember that its just fake.
    I hope she isn’t too affected by it and send you lots of love to get through the night. Send her to bed with a light on and watch a nice disney movie 🙂 xxx

  8. I think this raises a point about instinct in general; you clearly felt uncomfortable – and that feeling was RIGHT! In another context, say you look at a second-hand car, and test-drive it, and then your instinct tells you to walk away: You don’t have to know WHY you’re walking away! And so it was, here. Of course, refusing a 12-year-old a sleepover because you had a ‘gut feeling’ would not have been easy, either, and would probably have made trouble in some other way! Oh, dear… This parenting lark sucks sometimes, doesn’t it? One good thing, though: When she couldn’t sleep, whom did she text? Take heart! 🙂

    • Ah thank you, what a lovely comment! Yes, I am so pleased she knew I would be there for her and texted me!! And you’re right about not needing to justify our instincts, just trust them. 🙂

  9. Okay so now I’ve read your post and I 100% sympathise. This is the kind of thing I come up against all the time (with a 13 and 11 year old daughter) and I find it so maddening that parents aren’t more responsible. My daughter almost watched ‘The Hangover’ the other day at a friend’s house but thankfully the mother asked first. I said no! It’s so hard at this age, especially as they begin to make friends we don’t know. Hang in there, comfort your daughter and I promise she will get over it. One of my daughters won’t go no sleepovers at all so it’s not a problem. I hope that your little girl gets over it soon. Lot sof love x x

  10. Popping by from the mid week blog hop. very interesting post, i think as a parent and as a child you have to make informed decisions and just hope that you make the right ones, bringing up children is never easy and i think every thing that happens you and your child learn about it/from it together xx

  11. My own children end up watching films that perhaps they shouldn’t with their older siblings, however I wouldn’t let them with a friend to stay who might not be allowed the same scope. This is for their parents to judge and not me, you are right to be cross about the film. Releasing kids is not a science it is a judgement and only you as a parent should be making those calls for your children.

  12. Oh god, I have no words. These moments of “letting go”, of “releasing” are so hard. As my eldest is only 8 I have no words of wisdom about how I felt or dealt, I haven’t been in your shoes yet, except for the one time he needed to undergo an operation, having to let him go with the orderly was the hardest thing i have ever had to do. I feel for you.

  13. What a brilliant post. I am so sorry that your daughter was put into that position, and I hope you did give the parent in charge some stern words {from the watchful eyes and listening ears of your daughter of course!}

    Thanks for linking up with my first Mad Mid-Week Blog Hop! x

  14. As a parent of teens as well as tots i have total sympathy with you. You want to teach your child to be independent and let them fly, but sometimes you need to let them make mistakes and mop up after them.
    These children should not have been allowed to watch this film and have been supervised more closely, but, she has learned a valuable lesson and will probably stand up to her friends and refuse to watch such a film in the future.

  15. Pingback: Tots100 Parent Blogger Fresh Five | Tots 100

  16. I think we’ve tweeted a bit, as you read Judith and Helen and Vicky and Dragonsflypoppy and Nell etc but I truly found you tonight for real in the newbie round up on Tuesday Britmums by @actuallymummy. What a moving and beautiful post this is. So emotional. So scary too. As a mother of two little girls, I cannot begin to imagine how this must have made u feel. Violated no doubt. The last four lines in particular hit hard. They are forever our little girls, no matter how grown up. Thank you for sharing. x

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