As I write this article, my oldest child is transferring from a small college in upstate New York to a very large college in Flagstaff, Arizona, my 16 year old is getting ready to leave for 6 months to live in Argentina as an exchange student and my youngest son heads to boarding school in Pennsylvania.
While I watch my children slowly make their way out of my house and into their own lives, I am reminded of how often my choice of parenting principles has served not only me, but my children.
The sheer number of forms necessary for these three children to accomplish their goals is, at times, incomprehensible. This does not take into account the number of phone calls to schools, physicians, consulates, airlines, police stations and computer stores to gather information, send checks or verify shipping instructions. Fortunately, all three of them have taken the lead in every aspect of their plans.
There hasn’t been much nagging, reminding, lecturing, saving or screaming and, let me tell you something, if you think it’s tough dealing with a 3 year old at 5:00 PM who missed his/her nap… it’s NOTHING compared to how BAD it could be if these three young people were not completely competent, confident and capable!
Instead of a painful, stressful experience, this summer of planning has been filled with moments of:
- 1 parent, 3 teens on 3 different computers at 11:00 pm, all talking and Googling at the same time while someone fills out multiple forms to save time and energy.
- 2 parents on one speaker phone with 1 teen 600 miles away filling out forms, asking questions and setting up security codes together so we all have access.
- Pumping fists, high fiving and chest bumping as we complete yet ANOTHER complicated packet of information together or confirm an illusive plane reservation.
- And many, many moments of complete exhaustion and frustration shared by all of us where, just as we get ready to throw up our hands and slide not so gracefully down the rabbit hole, someone… some smart, intuitive, child suggests that it may be time for a ….. CREAMIE.
We wonder sometimes, whether every tough decision we make when our children are young to:
- Walk away
- Allow for natural consequences
- Hold weekly family meetings – even when nothing exciting is going on
- Allow choices that we KNOW will make a mess for a few weeks
When I watch these 3 amazing children, take the first precarious steps into their world as adults, I am awe struck at the grace, confidence and enthusiasm they all exhibit in their own ways.