You're very sweet Kate because considering the stunts Bobbie and Jessica have pulled this year, I wonder if I have any good advice at all. I'm questioning everything I did right now. I wonder if I wasn't too liberal and maybe I should have been more militant. Not that I could be. My father was a tad militant and I ran away for good when I was 16 so I guess I got mine through a couple more years!
The only thing I can think of is something that I'm trying to remind myself of constantly. No one is perfect. I'm not perfect and my kids aren't perfect and we're all going to make dumb decisions here and there. And that's ok. Or at least I'm trying to convince myself it's ok to watch my kids make dumb decisions. Getting to the part where they make all their own decisions and only get my input when asked for is more difficult than I anticipated it would be. The desire to protect and guide them is as strong now as it was when they were toddlers. Watching Bobbie being hurt by the same guy over and over feels the same as letting Conner get beat up on the playground by a bully and just sitting there watching it happen. As a mother, every instinct in my body wants to go pound the bully and take my daughter home where she can be safe.
The best things that my kids have learned is how to be respectful. When Jessica was in the police station, the investigator said she was very polite and respectful to him. None of the kids (thus far) have ever been mouthy or rude to any adult in their life. Jess and I talked about that a bit and she said she sees her peers get lippy with the adults at school and she says "Is it really so hard to hear them out? You can always make your point when they're done, and you don't have to have an attitude about it." I was so proud of her...but how did I do it? I dunno. I've always tried to be open with communication and let the kids tell me their side of things, even if I 'knew better' than them. I'm learning that as they get older it's harder to do.
I've always let them have as much control as possible. Conner had pink toenails for weeks, much to Rich's chagrin. But he wanted them-and I didn't feel like it hurt anything. It was much simpler when they were little.