Letting Go…All the Way to Europe!?

Brad, the “dad”

My 17-year-old daughter, the one who’s heading off to college in mid-August, dropped another bomb this afternoon. “I want to go to Europe this summer,” she said.

“What,” I said, “like you’re not leaving fast enough already?”

For some reason, she acted as if she hadn’t even heard me. “Three of my friends and me. Going to hostels in France and Italy.”

“No tour group? No school involved? No grown-ups?”

“I’m a grown-up now, Daddy.”

Before I could stop laughing, she said, “Come on, it’s only for a few weeks.” Yeah, like that would matter. Don’t put her in mortal danger in a foreign land ten thousand miles from home with no supervision for a month, that’s bad parenting. But for two weeks … no problem!

Europe

But seriously…she’s leaving soon already. Can’t she get into just as much trouble in her dorm room in the next county as she can in Alsace-Lorraine? And if I trust her then, why not trust her now? She’s a smart and responsible kid. Maybe it’s time to let her go.

But when does ‘letting go’ stop being a good idea and become just plain stupid? I know my daughter’s answer to that; it involves a round-trip ticket to Heathrow. I just don’t know mine.

Mary, the “mom”

No, she can’t get into as much trouble in her dorm room in the next county as she can in Alsace-Lorraine!

Finding your way around any new city can be a daunting experience, but you’re talking about a foreign country. Actually, two foreign countries. Where they don’t speak English!

I have no doubt that she is smart and responsible. Maybe she doesn’t need teachers or parents supervising (although she is still a minor). But has she ever traveled alone? Explored an unfamiliar city by herself? Does she speak French or Italian?

What about a tour group? I know…it sounds lame to her. Yeah, it sounds lame to me, too. But, YIKES, I can’t help thinking of all that could go wrong.

Can’t you find some compromise? A tour doesn’t have to be a senior citizen special or a high school trip with teacher chaperons. Maybe she can find some adventure tour meant for young people where they stay in hostels and backpack and all of that.

‘Letting go’ is good, but ‘too much, too soon’ isn’t.

Rach, the “teen”

I want to go touring France and Italy with your 17-year-old.

To be honest, though, I agree, it would be a bad idea to let her go off alone like that. Especially as a minor. She could get into all sorts of trouble. And, well.. if I was touring another country completely without supervision – I wouldn’t exactly be on my best behavior.

Europe

So, being in a new and different country, without parents or supervision, where there is likely to be new challenges and adventures. It sounds fun, but it could really be seriously damaging.

Nonetheless, tours with groups are super lame, so how about letting her (and her friends) spend a night or two down at the beach, or at some other place that is close enough for you, but far enough for her to be independent. That’s what my parents are letting me do. A weekend at the beach. It’s no France, but hey, at least I get some time to be independent before the big leap to college.