by Jennifer Shakeel
This article is inspired by the fact that our oldest is almost 15 and this summer everyone seems to want her to come and stay with them… and not for a day or two… but a week or more. Most of the next month, she is only going to be home for about 5 days if I am lucky. Now mind you it doesn't bother her, she is looking forward to going. She is going to get to see old friends and new places. We are happy for her, and we want her to go. At the same time though, we want her to be home. My husband and I miss our kids when they are gone. I know that you have read enough of my writing that you know we are a very close-knit family, always together. So this is a trying time. We want her to have fun… to do that, we have had to start to learn to let go.
So I am going to offer a few ideas to all the parents out there that have a child that is ready to blossom on their own, spread their wings and fly a little… but you are struggling cutting the umbilical cord. I am there with you! Here is how I am surviving.
Parenting Tip One: Realize that You Have Done Your Job
At some point you have to acknowledge the fact that you did a pretty good job of raising a responsible young adult. Yes, I know… chores are still not always done…and there are times that you question if their brain is still asleep on the pillow… but over all they are a good kid… and they deserve the chance to show you what a great job you have done on raising them.
Parenting Tip Two: Testing the Waters
Depending on the age of your child, you may want to give them the chance to prove that they are responsible by letting them babysit, or putting them in charge of another important task and seeing how they manage when you are not there. Sometimes as parents, we need to see it in order to believe it.
Parenting Tip Three: Talk to Them
Talk to your child about going away, or not being with you. Let them tell you they are going to miss you but that they are going to have a good time. Nope, they probably aren't going to think much about you while they are gone… but that is okay. When they come home you are going to get the big hug. Make an agreement that they have to call you at least twice while they are away… or you are going to call them. You can also instant message, text or send emails.
Parenting Tip Four: Look at Them For Who They Are
As much as we hate to admit that they are growing up, at some point we have to look at them and see them for the young adult they are becoming. They aren't going to be at home for ever… and as much as we want them to stay small, and be our baby forever… they can't, it isn't natural or healthy. I am amazed at the young lady my oldest has become. While she has her dingie moments… she really does have a good head on her shoulders and she isn't afraid to speak her mind. She knows that she can call me or her dad and we will be there in a minute to help her if she needs it.
Parenting Tip Five: Tell Them You Trust Them
The best way to show your child that you have faith in them and trust them to do the right thing while they are away is to tell them that you have faith in them… and that you are not going to nag them. They have to learn consequences to actions and cope with those consequences.
Parenting Tip Six: Reward Them for a Job Well Done
Our oldest helps me a lot during the day. She watches the baby while I am working, which is not always what our baby wants to happen. She is a definite mommy's girl and would rather be with me than anyone else. So there are days that our baby makes her big sister pay for the fact that she is only the big sister. So I agreed to pay her to watch her little sis while I work, two hours a day. Trust me when I tell you that there are days that she earns every penny and then some and we reward her for that. Don't assume that your oldest is going to do things just because they are the oldest. Pay them, they didn't ask to be a parent.
Parenting Tip Seven: Realize that Your Parents Had to Let Go
Had your parents not let you go and grow on your own then you would still be at home with mom and dad. While your life may not be ideal, or maybe it is… do you really want to live with mom and dad now? I love my mother… but ummm… no I can't live with her. She can live with me, my house my rules… can't go back and live by her rules… I am to old.
I know it isn't easy letting our kids go. I cry often on occasion (smile and wink) over the fact that my babies are growing up. I look at my oldest and see her 15 years ago, just a baby in my arms. I look at our youngest, who at almost 7 months is already growing up to fast. From one parent to another, make the most of everyday you have with them. Let them know that you love them, trust what you have done for them… and hold them by your fingertips as they get ready to fly from the nest.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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