Parenting Teens: Letting go while holding on

Building BlocksI will be composing a series of 7 posts about parenting for a class that I am taking. These posts may or may not be of interest to those outside of the course.
Week 7 

One of the most basic tenets as well as the hardest concepts to wrap our parental brains around is that our children will grow and leave us. It is the way of the world, and one that we understand logically but many times fail to grasp in our hearts.

Throughout their lives, we aim to keep them safe, protected, loved. But there will come a time when they need to leave the shelter and relative safety of our homes to venture out on their own. That is the plan all along, but it seems that sometimes we forget to actually plan for it.

As our children grow and change throughout their lives, it is important for us to be diligent in looking at what each new stage means for our parenting role. Obviously, when they are small, we are involved in every minute detail of their day. As they navigate through life, it changes. We are still involved, but we need to allow then to begin to take ownership of their own lives and choices.

Parents, please understand this is hard. Gut wrenchingly hard. This is where we lose sleep. This is where the grey hair comes from.

The letting go is the WORST.

It is also 100% necessary.

If we do not participate in the gradual letting go, our kids can easily be headed towards the tragedy that we have all seen too often, where the child becomes an adult and with their newfound freedom, runs wild with bad decisions abounding. We have to allow them to begin taking ownership so that they have a safe place to land while they can still learn from those mistakes under the safety of our roofs.

With each new stage, we redefine our roles, how we interact, and what that relationship will look like, building upon the previous stages.

My oldest child is 19, and therefore an adult. My interactions with him are different from interactions with his younger siblings. I no longer tell him what to do, or direct his choices. Instead, we discuss, and when asked an opinion I offer it. When not asked an opinion, I do my best to keep it to myself.

Our relationship is consistently growing as we learn what it means to both be adults. Not exactly peers, but not the same power dynamic of parent and child either.

This phase just maybe my favorite.

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