Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Goal In Parenting Is For Your Kids To Leave

As you know, I just spent the last two days at Central Washington University with Jessica at her freshman orientation. I really have mixed emotions going on right now about my baby leaving home. We are very close and I will miss having her around me, but I am also very excited for her to grow into the woman she was meant to be. I had an eye opening moment while there I would like to share.

At one point in the orientation they separated the students from the parents. Each went into different rooms for a discussion on transitioning to college life: the student being at college and the parents having their child leaving home. I was actually surprised at some of the discussion that went on in that room.

The biggest concern coming from anxious parents was their children taking drugs and drinking alcohol and wondering what the school was going to do about that. The second was probably the fear of a child expressing their newly found freedom in different ways besides said partying: tattoos, change in political and religious views and change in attitude due to peer influence.

I wanted to stand on the table and scream "What are you doing? You are treating your child like they are 10 and trying to make the school responsible for them." Here's the thing - you spend 18 years of your child's life raising them. You have 18 years to teach them values, to build a close bond with them and to give them the skills they will need to be a responsible adult. This time right now, a kid going off to college, is what you have spent their entire lives building up to..... letting them go.

They have become an adult. Sure, they will need advice from time to time, but they are their own person. You want them to explore different view points, you want them to be left alone to make their own decisions and you want them to do what's right for them. They are no longer an extension of you, they are their own person.

Be at ease. If you have raised your child well, and have been there for them with an open communication, they will come to you when faced with a problem or decision they need help with. They will feel comfortable coming to you and discussing different view points and valuing your opinion on them and they will talk with you about some of those expressions of freedom mentioned above (possibly even before they are carried out).

The point is, of you wait until they are 18 and going away to college to "be there" for your kids, you have waited too long. If you wait until they are 16, you have waited too long. Be there for your kids from the day they are born. Keep an open line of communication with them from day one. Show them that you will love them no matter what their entire lives. And, raise them in a way that when they are finally out on their own, they are ready to make their own decisions and be the adults they were meant to be. After all, the entire goal of parenting is to eventually raise a kid to leave and be their own, responsible adult.


  1. This dovetails nicely with my last Man Cave post about fighting the evil media!

    I don't get the position many parents take about drugs, sex, etc. i just want to shout "RAISE YOUR KID TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES, and you won't have to hold their hand every step of they way becuase THEY WILL MAKE GOOD CHOICES ON THEIR OWN!!!"


    I feel better now.

  2. You are so right! If you haven't taught them to make good choices by the time they are 18 it is too late! Now they are adults and will make their own choices regardless. And even the good choices they make may not always be the ones you want them to make. Now it's time for parents to step back, let go, and not butt in unless they are asked for help.

  3. Good post! It is sad that parents feel that way. I hate it when I see parents shield their kids from things. My kids know about drugs, alcohol, morals, values and my kids are 9 and 6. We always end conversations with..."if you have any questions ask me or Daddy." They know they can ask. Of course we give them the 9 and 6 year old version of things so we don't totally scar them but they already know that they can talk to us about anything.