So where once we as parents helped with everything I now need to let some of that go.
My daughter, Joan, is eight-and-a-half (the half is very important) and, in the past few months, has expressed a greater want for more privacy.
The first few requests for me to exit her room, or to turn around when she was changing, took me by surprise.
I’m her mom: what does she need to keep from me? We don’t have personal space! I carried her in a baby bjorn until she was nearly two and we co-slept together for years, plus she follows me into the bathroom whenever she wants.
But she does need privacy.
She needs the space to grow, emotionally and intellectually. She needs to feel that certain things are hers and hers alone.
It is positive for her to feel some control over her environment and, as she gets older, more and more control over decisions that directly affect her.
So, where once we, as parents, helped with everything, I now need to let some of that go.
I always helped her wash her hair and shower, but now I need to allow her privacy for this and for her to learn to look after that side of things independently.
The first few times, earlier this year, when she started to shower on her own, yes, there was a ton of conditioner left in her hair, but, in the greater scheme of things, does this really matter?
Her room is her castle and her things are prized possessions. So, up until recently, I was always going into her room, while she was at school, tidying it up and often culling things I felt we’re just taking up space. But I realised this isn’t right.
First of all, she should, and often does, clean up her room herself. Second of all it, isn’t up to me to decide what is of value to her and what isn’t.
I have, many times, thrown out something that looked like a dried-out piece of slime or a bit of a long-lost toy, but she eventually went looking for it and got mad that it was gone. It had value and meaning to her.
So, instead, I have asked her to clean up across the week and to donate things when she is ready to part with them.
Another recent thing for Joan is keeping a diary. She hordes them, I can’t count how many she has, but it is encouraging her to be creative and to work on spelling and writing.
She is adamant, however, that I never look in one of these books without her permission. I’ve never had the desire to, unless she wants to show me something and I feel that this is a golden rule to privacy: we must not snoop!
I appreciate it will be harder when they get older and, of course, if a child starts to say worrying things or display concerning behaviour, the instinct would be to go searching for answers.
Thankfully, though, at Joan’s age we are nowhere near that stage and, so far, it seems to be mostly rhymes and math puzzles.
One thing, though, I feel, as parents with children of Joan’s age, that we shouldn’t give them privacy for is any online activity.
Joan doesn’t have any online accounts or Tik Tok profile or access to unlimited world wide web.
If she does jump onto my iPad, which doesn’t have a child setting, I look closely at her YouTube history.
So, for now, my biggest challenges, regarding Joan’s privacy, are to, first of all, respect that she wants it; second of all, hope she gets all the shampoo out and, thirdly, instil in her that, no matter what, she can always come to me with anything and that I will always love and support her.
Catch Alison’s Weekend Breakfast show every Saturday and Sunday, 8am-11am on Today FM