As a parent letting go can be quite a challenge. We have to let go in so many different phases and chapters of our children’s lives. Right off the bat, we have to let go and let medical staff clean up and take care of our baby(ies) as soon as they come into the world…with my boyz being preemies, I had to take that a step further and let others care for them for almost a month with my involvement being minimal comparatively speaking. They start walking and we have to let go of their hand so they can do it on their own….they go to pre-school /daycare and we have to walk out the door while they stay there with others…they go to full day Kindergarten where we let go and hear about a whole day without mom or dad 5 days a week.
This was the first day all three were home – for 3 1/2 weeks the nurses had more contact with the boyz than Steve and I did. I was SO happy to have them all home and loved having all three by myself.
And it goes on as they progress through school, move from pre arranged play dates to their own plans to be with friends, go from help on their homework to doing it on their own… and hopefully keeping track of said homework! 😉 But the ‘letting go’ that most people associate with parenting is the transition to college/post high school life.
Our first of three big letting go experiences….Induction Day at USNA June 2018
I have never felt so clear about my need to surrender and let go as I have these past 2 to 3 years. Of course, that does not mean that it has been easy, or that I have done a good job of it much of the time. I still hold on for dear life at times – not because I do not feel like I can live without them or that I don’t know how to fill my life in this next phase – but because I worry and I want them to be happy and fulfilled and healthy just as any parent does.
I found Junior and Senior years to be a challenge with balancing the need to let the boyz ‘own their stuff’ and have increased independence /responsibility while at the same time these are the years that colleges are really looking at and will make a huge impact on their futures. 16-18 year olds want more independence, are more interested in social life, and are balancing so many academic, athletic, extracurricular and social demands on top of physical and emotional changes. As a parent it is hard to know how much to step in and how much to let them go.
A few weeks ago I heard an interview on NPR of authors Dr Anthony Rastain and B Janet Hibbs who co-wrote ‘The Stressed Years of Their Lives’. It is a book about the transition to college and how in this current time, so many students struggle – with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, technology addiction. The interview spoke to me because Janet Hibbs is a therapist and her son was struggling his second semester of his freshman year of college – to the point which he did not go back to school after Spring Break. This was of course devastating to her son and the whole family. They worked with Dr Rastain and others to help her son find his path, which thankfully he did, but it was not quick or easy. It was SO amazing to hear her speak about her experience as a mom/therapist – we want to prevent these things and can be very hard on ourselves for mistakes made because we ‘knew better’ or ‘should have known better’. I downloaded the book immediately, listened to it daily until I was finished and have since recommended it to any parent with children high school/college age that I can.
The book points out the incredible increase in mental health issues in teens and young adults, the complexity of the world they live in compared to what we experienced, the competition to get into schools and then how the pressure continues once they are in college. Technology and social media have served to exacerbate these problems as a simple trip to the grocery store can look like an important event missed out on when you’re 19 and see a post of your friends all laughing by the cereal aisle and you were not included. Technology can serve as an escape as well – be it gaming, binging on Netflix, Youtube, social media obsession or the like. And of course, the ever present alcohol and drug scene that shows itself at just about every college campus and is a whole new arena to negotiate for many kids.
This parenting phase has certainly created some growth and expansion for me – though it has been painful and challenging to watch the boyz falter at times, I am learning to accept what is more often and to be more forgiving of myself and the imperfections in my parenting journey.
There are two things we should give our children,
one is roots,
the other is wings
Letting go absolutely feeds the love and enhances self growth and healthy relationships with our young adult children.
Keep Feeding the Love…