I just saw a post on Facebook that got me thinking about something. The essence of it was that we are raising people, not children. The very job of parenting is to give our children the tools to leave us.
Why does this seem so hard these days? Everywhere you look, people make excuses for their children's bad behavior or poor performance. Many are so quick to blame others whether the others are teachers, coaches, bosses, whoever. They are protected and prodded. We push them when they are not ready for something, but hold their hand when they need us to back away and let them dive in for better or worse.
My husband is a High School Teacher. As long as we have had children in school we have reminded ourselves that we will not allow each other to be "those" parents. But when do you have to be one of those parents? There is a place where the line is crossed and we have to step in to advocate (not excuse or protect) for our little birds. Knowing when they need to advocate for themselves and when they need us to step in can be tricky. We want them to be happy.
Hopefully as they get older, the line gets further away. We don't do them any favors by protecting them from the consequences of their behavior, or the realities of the world. Isn't that how we learn best, by making mistakes and then learning to make different choices? Trying on different persona's until we figure out who we really are?
What about when they do "leave" us? When my son started driving, I felt my heart tighten every time he left the driveway. The news about the black teenager in Florida killed by a neighborhood watch person makes me sick to my stomach. He was walking back from the store with some snacks.
No wonder it becomes easy to hang on tightly, too tightly to them. It's not because we don't trust them, it's because we don't trust the world.
Raising children means giving them the tools to take on the world. If we have done our job well, all we can do is trust them to make the choices that will make it a better place for themselves and others.
It also helps to trust that someone else, God or whoever, is watching out for them too.