A few months ago, Michaela was told by a young man that I "make all of her decisions for her" and that I "control her." Of course my first reaction was to laugh and to think that if I truly did control her and make her decisions I would certainly have a lot less to worry about. And if I was a "puppet master" for my children, parenting would definitely be so much easier! But the comment made me look at myself as a parent and consider my role in my children's lives.
My conclusion...parenting is hard...sometimes I hate it...and I question my decisions often.
But I also realized that raising happy, well balanced children requires being successful...in two concepts that are complete polar opposites of one another.
First, as parents, we make decisions for our children. We teach and we discipline so that we can instill family values, ground our children in faith, and create stability and security in their lives. We spend years creating a home that represents safety. Family is where we teach our children to seek comfort. We spend years making choices that will ground our children in an assurance of their worth and value. Our unconditional love is the basis for forming strong roots.
Then, as soon as the roots have taken hold, we take a step back and we begin preening their wings so that they can take flight and begin a life separate from us. And letting go is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
Taking a step (or 20) back and allowing Michaela to make her own choices, her own mistakes 'hurts my heart'. Often I (choose to) forget that she is a young adult and that she has to make her own choices, whether I agree with them or not. I want to alleviate the hurt and heartache that are inevitable as she matures and makes more of her own life choices. I want to keep her in the safety of my heart so that she does not look back on her life and say, "If only I had/hadn't.....". I want to continue strengthening the roots because that is simpler---for me. But I know that controlling all of Mac's choices is not what is best for her. I realize that one day (all too soon), she will drive away and begin creating her own home. So, as her parent, I must continue to guide her and make choices for her~~that is my responsibility~~but I also must remember to step back and allow her to make more of her own decisions~~~and to be there to support her... in the joy or in the sorrow of her choices.
Boy!!! Letting go is heartwrenching.
Success as a parent comes when we recognize that the roots we have been nurturing are stable and that we realize when it is time to step back and do what is necessary to strengthen the wings. We must know that if we have done our best, although they have flown away, their roots are strong and well grounded within our hearts and homes.
Man, why didn't anyone tell us parenting was so hard!!!