Do you feel extreme guilt over every harsh comment, threat or action you chose because face it, every parent feels like a failure during those challenging times where you wonder “where the Hell did I go wrong?”
So, I made a conscious effort to listen, be compassionate and trust that “this, too, shall pass” every time I thought I failed to have the right words. I reminded myself that my role in my daughters’ lives was not to solve their problems but to instill confidence and show them that I believe they possess the strength to overcome any adversity.
Parents experiencing this partial or full empty nest syndrome need to visualize seeing their kids smiling, experiencing a healthy transition, enjoying new friendships and gaining not only a college education but an opportunity to be independent which, in my eyes, maybe even more valuable than a college degree. How else can they pave the way for their future success if they are still tied to their mother’s umbilical cord? Without trusting that they are self-sufficient, they will constantly be seeking approval from their parents. I have heard sad stories where young adults in their twenties need advice ranging from choosing their own cell phone plan to what to do when they’re sick.
As parents, if we do not let go of the need to hover over our kids, especially when they are in their late teens or just starting their adult life away from home, we will constantly worry about them and our kids will feel totally incapable of being responsible for themselves. I notice the older my girls get, the more self-reliant they become. I choose to see their independence as a sign that I did a great job of being their mom.
The most damaging thing I can do, as a mom, is imagine my daughters giving up, put too much emphasis on their tears and feel guilty that my girls are suffering. I’m learning to change my perception from suffering to growing pains that will help them gain strength and lead them to feeling confident in evolving into independent women.
If you choose to participate in a pity party, not only will you suffer endless nights of insomnia, your child will pick up on your anxiety, and gradually lose self-confidence. Parents need to learn how to ignore what appears to be a traumatic cry to manipulate you into catering to their request to solve whatever crisis they seem to be enduring. Instead, our job is to remind our kids that they will be fine. I’m not advocating a total hands-off parenting approach. It’s comforting for every child to know they have supportive parents, but it’s more important for them to learn to be resourceful and self-reliant.
I used to visualize the crashing waves at the beach as a reminder of nature’s beauty. Despite hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, nature always bounces back. It’s a lesson in perseverance and faith. Nature trusts in the Universe’s plan. It does not dwell on the destruction, but on the healing that takes place after each storm.
I had moments of feeling strong yet reminded myself to be like Mother Nature and trust that I would also bounce back. I would evolve, become stronger, overcome adversity, and witness amazing miracles as I see my first-born transform into a mature woman who would learn to have faith in herself.
Don’t see tears as a symbol of weakness but watch your child with the pride of a mama bird watching her baby bird flutter her wings with uncertainty. Visualize any struggles as the pathway to resiliency. The mistakes these young birds make as they learn to fly on their own, falling sometimes, but eventually leaving their nest to start their own families must fill their mothers with mixed emotions. Just imagine the pride a mama bird feels
watching their little ones becoming independent, no longer needing her to feed them and protect them, yet missing the comfort of having them near her.
I have realized that being a parent involves preparing your child to live their life without needing you. This is a hard concept to accept as most parents feel their entire purpose is centered on making sure their children’s needs are provided for, that they are protected, and they are taught every possible lesson. This is probably why many parents feel a bit lost when their kids leave home.
As parents, if we do not let go of the need to hover over our kids, especially when they are in their late teens or just starting their adult life away from home, we will constantly worry about them and our kids will feel totally incapable of being responsible for themselves.
Our kids will always love us, but they will hopefully learn to lean on themselves. It doesn’t lessen our value. We just play a different role in their lives. We now have done our job raising them and can enjoy watching them soar on their own. It’s a new beginning instead of an end.
The next time you find yourself trying to save your child from making a mistake, remind yourself that your job is to allow him to experience hardship. If our children do not learn how to overcome adversity, how will they survive the "real world" where mom and dad will not come to their rescue?