Monday, August 15, 2016

Pull Back To Allow Your Child's Growth

I had asked my son (who is 21 years old) to renew his passport this summer.  He was home on Summer break from college, and was attending two summer school classes and doing odd jobs--so I knew he had some responsibilities in addition to this request, but last week as he prepared to return to college this task remained unfinished.  I had reminded him multiple times throughout the summer but to no avail.

Two days before he was to leave he began asking me questions about what to do and how to accomplish this task.  Needless to say, I was a little frustrated.  But I made a conscious decision to hold back.  I did not jump in to help him figure the process out.  I did not run and find his birth certificate as he requested.  I told him where to look for the documents and tried to refrain from answering any of his questions.  All of this did not come easily to me especially as he became angry at my hands off approach.  The frustrated parent in me wanted to just handle this myself.  But a little voice inside of my brain kept urging me to stay out of the process and let him figure this out on his own.

Did I mention he was leaving for college in two days?  Did I mention the mother's guilt that kicked in, when I thought about how I would not be seeing him for the next few months?  This whole situation was as much a struggle for me as it was for him...but I stayed strong.  I left it all to him--and he got it done.

This situation is an example of how difficult it can be as a parent to allow our children to grow. Although Michael is not a child any more, I can remember other times in the years when my four children were at home that my husband and I consciously pulled back to allow them to grow.

What ways do you allow your children to grow?  Do you have them do chores in your home?  Do you ask your 'tweens to babysit their younger siblings, or pick up the phone and order a pizza for your family's dinner?  Do you have your little ones clean up their toys or practice good manners while visiting someone's home?  Growth only happens when parents take the time to pull back and encourage their child to take ownership of his/her own behavior.  It is a constant challenge for a loving parent to know when to hold back and allow your child to step up.

At the beginning of the school year, my preschool students often are scared to leave their moms and dads at the door and come into the classroom, but with a final hug goodbye--we encourage the parents to go, as we assure them that we will call if their child is inconsolable.  This exercise is often more difficult on the parent than the child.

So Parents, please remember to hold back because: every new experience is an opportunity for growth.  And this is a parenting skill you will be practicing for many years to come!

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