Allowing our Children to Grow Up….
Two years ago this week I sat down in front of my computer with my eyes so full of tears I could barely see and an ache in my heart so deep I thought I could barely stand it. I had just taken my daughter to college for the first time. This week my girl loaded up her car kissed me good-bye and set out to move herself and most of her things to college by herself. I followed the next day with a few boxes she couldn’t fit in her car, an envelope with some spending money in it and her guitar. Two years has certainly changed things. She has proven that she can take care of herself and although she does things differently than I do at times I understand that she has earned the right to do so.
Living and working in a small town can have its advantages. For example, when my daughter’s paycheck from her summer job arrives in the mail I can take it to the bank and deposit it without an bunch of hassle. This past week I went to the bank for her and as I waited in line I overheard a discussion between a teller and a customer. He had taken his daughter to college for the first time the day before. He shared that she had cried when he left he hoped she would be okay. Knowing that my daughter is in college the teller acknowledged me and asked if I had moved my girl into her dorm yet. Smiling I explained that she had moved herself in the day before and that I would see her later in the day. I asked the customer where he took his daughter. Explaining that he had taken her to the other side of the state at a branch of the university my daughter attends locally I was curious as to why she went so far away. Without hesitation he shared with me that he would not allow his daughter to attend the main campus of the university because it was too big and that there were “hoodlums” there. With the hair beginning to stand up on the back of my neck I took a deep breath and shared with him that there are “hoodlums” everywhere which triggered a long explanation as to how wrong I was. Forcing myself to remain calm and assure him that my daughter’s experience at the university has been excellent academically and socially it became clear that this man was not going to change his mind. Holding back an eye roll I listened as he proclaimed that certain lifestyles were not allowed at his daughter’s campus nor is smoking and drinking. Bless his heart he has no idea that certain lifestyles, smoking, alcohol and other social behaviors that he is trying to shield his daughter from are everywhere. I wished him well and went about my banking business. I hope his girl makes it and that she can avoid all of the “hoodlums” she runs into in life; but my guess is that she will face some difficult decisions, peer pressures and a run in with the occasional “hoodlum” or persons of certain lifestyles that her daddy warned her about. It will be at that time she will either learn to make her own decisions or ask her daddy for his opinion. I hope she makes her own decision; it’s her turn to do so.
As difficult as it was for me in the beginning to let my girl go I knew that it was necessary for both of us. She spent 18 years listening to me and her dad and following our rules. She earned the right to leave and take charge; and take charge she did. As parents we are charged with taking care of, providing for and teaching our children to grow up; it’s their job to grow up. Parents struggle with each age and stage of their child’s development and before they know it is time for to take them off to college and set them free. While my girl is not completely free (we still pay the bills) she makes her own day to day decisions and has been faced with conflict and has dealt with it. As parents we need to understand that our children will be faced with bad stuff once in a while and that is totally okay. It is how they learn. The key is to ensure our children know that if and when it gets difficult or dangerous they can ask for our help.
I am proud of my children and the big kids they have become. I believe that my husband and I have done a pretty good job raising them. They are not perfect, the make mistakes, they do things we might not like at times but they are our children and we love them unconditionally.
Becoming parents of grown children I believe is the reward for enduring the little kid years. You will never hear me say “oh I wish they were babies again” because I don’t. Do I miss those cute little kids? Yes, but the big kids who showed up in their place are pretty special.
I encourage you to enjoy your children, no matter what their age. Show them that you are proud of them, and allow them to be who they are supposed to be without putting restrictions on them or insisting they be someone or something they are not.
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!