As the boy continues to get older, one of our parenting dilemmas is how much independence to give him when traveling to Walt Disney World. What is the right age? How much independence is the right amount? Along with the general parental worry about safety, etc.
For us, it has been a gradual journey and I’m sure the journey will continue as the boy stretches the apron strings farther and farther. What started out as him being a few steps ahead of us hand grown into “I’ll go ahead to Germany and meet you there” with a reply indicating we would meet him at the train garden.
He now rides attractions by himself, selecting to sit by himself or with others rather than his dear old mom and dad. We are usually riding too, but in another vehicle or row.
Every parent has to make these types of decisions for themselves. We know that our boy has knowledge of the parks due to his frequent visits. He has a label inside his shirt with my cell phone number and can recognize Cast Members and ask for help if needed. And, while it can be easier sometimes if there are two or more children to go as a group, that is not our situation.
The boy has been able to show us or tell us when he is ready for the next stage or level like giving up the bottle, sleeping in a big bed, riding a bike, jumping off the high dive, etc. So if we offer the freedom and he doesn’t take it, I know he doesn’t feel ready yet and if he asks for the freedom, within reason, I know he considers himself ready and I need to squelch my anxieties and give him the parameters and support, such as “we will meet you at the train garden.”
Was he at the train garden after leaving us in the Japan Pavilion in EPCOT? You bet he was. And, we let him know when we arrived. The husband and I enjoyed the short walk from the Japan Pavilion to the Germany Pavilion getting a taste, if only for a moment, what it might be like to travel to the most magical place on earth sans child.
The next decision is how much freedom the boy will have while sailing on the Dream. His age gives him privileges of checking himself in and out of the kids clubs—with us granting him that status of course. That, in itself, isn’t the issue, it is being able to know where he is and how he can find us if he does check himself out of the club. I have a magnetic white message board and marker in the suitcase just for this and the wave phones may come in handy this trip!
How much freedom and independence do you give your child or children when traveling to Walt Disney World?