When your baby becomes a toddler, you are so excited for what comes next. Crawling. Walking. Talking. Playing independently.
But when they become pre-teens and teenagers, it becomes harder and harder to watch them become independent.
Why is that?
For me, I think some of it is fear. Fear of them getting hurt. Fear of them getting in trouble. Fear of them making wrong choices. Fear of them growing up and leaving me behind. Fear of what life will be like when they have left home. Fear that I haven’t done a good enough job as a mom.
But the problem with giving in to the fears is this: by holding on too tightly, we are actually making it harder for them to succeed as adults. As parents, we must give them the tools to grow up and become independent of us. And then we have to let them try those tools out and see how they work.
I will never forget the first time I let my kids walk to the public library without me. It is five blocks from our house. And we live in a small community. I made Anne text me when she left our house, text me again when they arrived at the library, text again when leaving the library and finally text when they returned home. I was a nervous wreck the entire time. And this was just a little over a year ago. (Overprotective much?)
I have some trouble letting go. I like my kids. I used to get a hard time from some of our friends because we would rarely get a sitter when they were younger. We just like being with our children. That is why we had children, to love on them and be a family.
But I also know that I have to let them grow and learn, which means I have to learn to let go and encourage them to step out independently. I have to be aware of where they are at and when they are ready for the next step toward independence and encourage that.
That means letting them fail sometimes. That means my heart hurts sometimes. That means beaming with pride when they rise to the occasion. That means giving them an “atta boy” or “atta girl” when they show growth in some area where previously I may have wondered if they would ever grow.
That means that I cannot hold them too tightly.
Let go. Encourage. And watch them thrive.