Open up any facebook posting this week and you’ll see comments from parents sending kids off to Kindergarten, High School and University. The big transitions.
The trick is to celebrate. It’s exciting. It means that you have done our job raising your kids so that they are ready for the next stage.
I read an article about the Dad who taught his children how to take the bus to school. They were ready. But someone complained, suggested these kids were not safe and now he can’t permit them to travel on the bus until the oldest is twelve. How dumb is that!
This attitude is not going to help our children to grow up. Each stage can be a challenge, but letting our kids grow up is our job.
The very people who might complain that a group of well-trained children, cannot ride the bus are going to be the same people who complain that our older teens and young adults are too protected, are not able to apply for jobs, to register themselves at University or college. Are just not growing up.
Well growing up is a process and if we don’t let our kids go as they are ready we are limiting them and reducing their ability to get on with their lives.
Letting Go – Tough but Necessary
One day your child took her first independent breath and your whole life changed. You were no longer a childless couple expecting a baby, you were a parent and would be so for the rest of your life.
One day you took her to preschool or daycare and left her. You had to turn around and go elsewhere while she stayed and experienced life without you. And one day she started kindergarten and she was no longer a preschooler but a student.
Raising children is full of days like this. The day she takes her first step, says her first words, gets on a bus with her friends to go to the mall, gets all dressed up for her first dance or party and the day she heads off in her polyester uniform to start her first job working in a fast food outlet.
In each case, a parent’s job is to first be preparing her for these new stages by teaching her what she needs to know, then letting her go. Letting her go; knowing she will make mistakes, will be hurt or embarrassed but has the skills, the tenacity to move forward. And you are always there to teach, to supervise, to soothe and to encourage.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Then one day, she heads off to University and all those years of slowly letting go pay off. Sure, she’s nervous and she has lots to learn about living away from home. But she has the basic skills and you celebrate her maturity. (You may cry and worry in private).
But in the last few years we are hearing more stories about parents who just won’t let go and children who aren’t ready to go. Parents haven’t done the job of raising their kids to be capable adults ready to head out into the world and make their own way.
I was floored last year when I heard the story about a University student standing in line to register for his courses. This is not usually the easiest or smoothest process in the world. But, hey, this is a young man who managed to graduate from high school, apply to the university and get accepted. He should be able to handle this particular rite of passage. But wait a minute. Who is that with him? His mother. And not only that, she is doing all the talking. There he is, a young adult allowing or maybe even expecting his mother to handle registration.
And it’s not an anomaly. Some Universities have developed a handbook for parents who are having trouble adjusting to their children being in university. These parents are not simply bringing their kids to campus and dropping them off. They are helping them buy books, set up their dorm rooms and some are even staying overnight. I have even heard about parents are attending Frosh week parties and student orientation sessions.
I wrote the book, But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home: From Toddlers to Teens: How Parents Can Raise Children to Become Capable Adults, because I was seeing too may young men and women who are not growing up. Parents are not raising them to be capable and the kids are comfortable remaining dependent children
Parenting is about raising kids to have roots and wings. First, we need to do the tough job of parenting, giving kids security and stability by modeling, expecting, demanding and supervising their behavior. We set limits, we discipline, we offer unconditional love and through this we raise kids ready to become capable. These are their roots.
From the stability of their roots, we give them wings. We understand that from their first independent breath we are engaged in the process of letting go. And it’s a process. Each developmental stage requires us to help them to develop the tools they need to move forward to toward the day when they head off to create their own life.
In my book, my adult children wrote an afterword and talked about becoming capable young adults.
About leaving home for the first time, my son said,” There were missteps, but I found a place to live, I found my way to school and I figured out how to manage my time.” And my daughter said. “I didn’t move out without a care or concern, but I did have enough skills to get myself places, feed, clothe and house myself and figure out the rest.”
We need to let our children go to daycare and preschool, to elementary and secondary school and to the mall with their friends. And once they graduate from high school we need to let them go to find their own lives as the young adults they are.
Our relationship will endure but it will, and should, change.
Bring Kathy to your Community
Do you want to hear more? Kathy is always happy to come and speak in your community, at you event or as a workplace wellness presentation. On her website you can find more information on her material.
My presentations will share a basic value that I call
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face it, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I always have my kindle with me when I’m out and about.
There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
And Vive la Différence talks about the unique kids and situations which need a special look.
Come and take a look. These may be just the resource you need.