This week I watched my first born Rikki walk away as he embarked on a school-camp adventure & I smiled. Not because he did something right but because I realised he was okay saying goodbye, & because he was okay, I finally felt like I did something right with this parenting gig!
For the first time in 13 years I’ve found some sort of comfort in letting go. I constantly go between wanting him to remain my baby boy forever & then being excited about all the things that he will experience & do in his life. But we can’t expect them to grow up resilient, strong, successful & all the other things we wish for our children’s future if we don’t let them grow on their own. No-one said growth was easy, but it is necessary.
The hard truth is, you won’t always be there to carry your child. You won’t always be there to speak for them. You won’t always be there to protect them. We most certainly wont always be there to wash their clothes, cook their meals, tie their shoes or open packets of chips. Let them try & teach them how.
At the end of the day, our children aren’t ours to keep. One day they will drive off, they will move out, they will financially support themselves, they will do their own washing & cook their own food. One day, they may even start a family! Our job is not to keep them in a bubble because WE don’t want to let go. Our job is to love them, to simply be there, to listen, to teach them & to guide them. Our job is not to protect them for the rest of their lives but to prepare them for adulthood, to make space & more importantly, to give them space.
Our job is to raise them capable to one day live without us. To attain more knowledge than we ever attained ourselves at their age so that they are ready to face the world independently, because as much as we want to hold them forever, we can’t. One day will have to use a toaster or a stove, one day they will have to wash their own clothes, so let them try, let them fail & let them learn whilst you support & guide them when they need it.
You would be surprised at how capable our children actually are when you allow them to do things on their own. I only recently found out that my 4 year old daughter Tiana, is able to open packets on her own. Such a simple task yet this whole time I had unintentionally not given her the opportunity to even try. I would always just hand her an open packet. It wasn’t until she snuck in the pantry & tried to open a packet of chips that I noticed that I was not allowing her to give it a go, & so I stood there & watched her try. She struggled for a moment & it took every ounce of me not to take over & help her, but she did not ask for help, so I waited. Sure enough, she opened it all by herself!
My point is, our children are more capable than we give them credit for, & if they aren’t yet capable then that is okay! They will learn IF we allow them to. We ourselves have grown resilient through life challenges, learned from mistakes & gained successes through failure. We are who we are because we have lived – & I think it is important that we step back & allow our children to live too.
Stepping back doesn’t mean we disappear from their lives, it simply means that we are there if they need us whilst they live & experience their own individual lives.
I realised that we often stress ourselves sick trying to raise our kids “right”. But are we so focused on how we dream for our children to grow to be that we are forgetting that they are already someone today?
Is it really that our children can’t handle XYZ or is it that we won’t let them handle XYZ?
I use to fear my children growing up. Now my biggest fear is my children growing up unprepared & unable to live without me.
But come Friday, you bet I’ll be hugging that kid extra tight!
– Ann Toscano