As your children move through school and college and the other stages of their life, you are forced to face up to the fact that they are growing up, becoming more independent and needing you less and less. It is difficult. You have been the centre of their lives, feeding them, rocking them to sleep, wiping away their tears and helping them to navigate their childhood. Many parents feel unneeded and redundant when they are no longer needed quite so much by their children. Many couples look at whether they are still in a position to have just one more child, while others accept that this particular stage of parenting is over, and look at booking in for a vasectomy procedure.
Here, we look at some of the things that you can do to help you to let go and accept that they are growing up.
Let them make mistakes
As a parent, it can be incredibly difficult to sit back and watch your child make a mistake, especially when you can see it happening beforehand and could step in and stop it from happening. However, it is important that you allow them to make some mistakes as you are not always going to be there to fix things for them, and part of growing up is learning to sort out their mistakes and make amends.
Give them roots and wings
This famous saying by Dr Jonas Salk alludes to making sure that your children, no matter how old they are, know where their home is, that they can come back to you and their home whenever they need to (the roots) but making sure that they have the wings to fly off and practise everything that you have taught them.
Ask the right questions
Asking the right questions can be a skill. It is important to think about how you phrase a question in order to get an answer – how many times have you asked your children after school. ‘What have you done at school today?’ and got a ‘I dunno, can’t remember’ out of them as an answer. It is also important that you do not project your own fears onto your child. Instead of asking them if they are worried about a specific issue, ask them if there is anything worrying them in general. Leading questions may give you answers, but not necessarily the ones that you want or need.
Take small steps
Knowing when to give your child independence 0is one of the hardest but most important things a parent has to think about. The key to doing this is to do it in small steps. Start by letting them fix their own lunch or choose their own clothes, leaving them in the house for short periods of time when they hit an appropriate age or letting them walk home from school alone. Giving them it in small steps allows them to learn from the previous step and build up their confidence.
Accepting that your child is growing up can be difficult, but it also means that they – and you – are entering an exciting new part of their lives.