Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Man Cave: Letting Go as a Parent

I'm not going to lie: I don't really have a strong topic today. Just some random thoughts and feelings ( feelings belong in the Man Cave?) about when and how to start letting your kids find their own way through life.

Raising kids is the carrot-chase to end all carrot-chases. Every time you think you've figured out how to deal with their problems and concerns they grow a little and develop a whole new set of problems and concerns. You become an expert just in time to become a beginner again.

In the early stages of their growth the choices your kids face are fairly black and white, and as a parent you usually have the final say. As they approach adulthood not only do many of their choices become distinctly gray, but they also become theirs, and you are basically relegated to an advisory role. Still, that doesn't make it any easier. Knowing when to apply pressure and when to ease off is every bit as confusing.

I've been reminded a few times lately about how difficult it is to watch your adult kids make choices that go against your advice. Man, it is double-tough. I have to keep reminding myself that just because they have made a different choice than I would have doesn't mean they are wrong. (Aaarrrgghhh!!!  Yes it does! No it doesn't!)

The whole process reminds me a lot me of the time I spent teaching them to drive; white-knuckled episodes of determined silence, followed by desperate instruction delivered in wild screams of panic, ending finally in close-eyed hope for the best. I guess the best you can do is try to convince them that every thing you want for them is motivated by love, and hope that the foundation you laid when they were young is strong enough for them to build a productive life on.

And, when you think the time is right, give them a good, sturdy shove.

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