We Can’t Keep Them

Our job as a parent is to prepare our child for adulthood. As simple as that statement is, it is not an easy task. It requires time, repetition, instruction, leniency, patience and a whole lot of love. It can be frustrating and exhausting. The rewards, however, are worth every second of struggle and self-doubt. When the time comes for your little bird to fly the nest, knowing that you have raised a strong offspring, fully capable of flying on his own, is the one of the best feelings in the world.

For some parents, it’s hard to let go for whatever reason. Perhaps it’s empty nest syndrome or something much deeper that they don’t even know how to define. These parents somehow see their child as their property. The “I made him so he is mine” mentality. Ironically, the children of those types of parents are the least likely to be able to fly on their own. They are the young adults who will still depend on their parents for a lot of their needs and even some wants. While that scenario may be what the parent thinks they want at the time, it will eventually create an unhealthy environment for all. Adult children are meant to create a life of their own, not remain at home.

Raising a child that is ready to leave home is the opposite of failure. It means you have done your job as a parent successfully. You have instilled good ethics, taught independence and watched as your child matured into a young adult, ready to take on the world. It means that you were your child’s “my perfect parent”.

I raised two strong daughters. Both of them left home at eighteen. They knew that if they ever needed me, I would be there, but they were confident enough in themselves to feel as though they were ready for adulthood and the responsibilities it required. Each of them came back home just once, for a brief time, shortly after. Life had thrown them a curve ball and they needed a leg up so I provided that for them. They spread their wings and flew, but when a windstorm hit, they weren’t prepared for it. Mom provided the familiar nest for them to catch their breath and then take off soaring knowing then that they were capable of weathering the storm of life.

From the time you hold your newborn for the first time, this should be your goal. To guide this child through to adulthood with the intention of watching them soar from the nest when they reach adulthood. As much as we love them, they aren’t ours to keep. They were given to us but for a short time, to teach, guide, love and then let go. If we’re really lucky, at some point in the future they will provide us with grandchildren to love and spoil. That definitely makes it all worthwhile.

Start when your child is born to prepare him to fly the nest. Teach him independence, confidence, compassion and love. Then be confident in your own parenting to let him go.



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