What’s the point of training our children to get themselves up in the morning, or unload the dishwasher, or organize their time? Is it because it will make our lives easier? Well no, that is an added benefit, but that’s not the real reason. The reason we train our children is to prepare them for departure.
One day our children will leave our houses; it doesn’t matter how much we make them the center of our universe—they will leave someday, and it is our job to make sure they are ready. By the time our kids turn 16 through 18, there is a lot of growth happening. They are learning to drive, opening bank accounts (if they haven’t already), applying for college or for jobs, dating, and possibly doing lots of other things like drinking, drugs…sends shivers up the spine just thinking about it.
Our children are getting ready for their lives because they know they are leaving, and they need all the support we can muster to help them jump into their lives and “out of the nest.” Last spring I heard a lot about parents of high school seniors who were having a hard time letting go. This was causing all sorts of havoc in the family and between the parents and children. Being the parent of a three- and five-year-old, I can’t say that I completely understand how those parents were feeling. But, I vividly remember the ache in my heart and stomach as I watched my “baby” walk down the hall for the first time to her kindergarten classroom, and I can only imagine what it will be like to watch her walk across the stage at 18 to receive her diploma.
So, what is a parent to do? How can we support our children as they ready themselves to depart, while we feel like falling apart? Here are a few things you can do:
- Support them with any additional training they might need in real-world skills.
- Loosen the boundaries around them a little without letting go; it will do wonders for your relationship.
- Trust them.
- Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Unfortunately, from the moment they arrive, our children are preparing to depart and live their own lives. So it is our job to give them a “map,” by training them in self and life skills, and then fasten our seatbelts, enjoy the ride, and know when to let go.