Time to Let Go of the Children - Their Lives Are Starting, What About Yours?

Expert Author Susan Leigh
All children are entitled to be provided with a caring, nurturing environment in which to feel safe, grow and develop. That should be the number one parental responsibility - to enable a child to safely develop in its own way, to find its own strengths and support and manage it's weaker areas, so to develop its own uniqueness and character.
But there is also a requirement to teach children to become independent, financially and emotionally, to nurture their confidence and prepare them for life away from the home. To ultimately become responsible for themselves, their lives and their future choices. Research has proven that children who walk to school are more street wise than the children who are driven in every day. Children learn from seeing, witnessing, feeling, experiencing. This is how they extend their horizons, learn what to expect and how to deal with things that come their way. Its how they develop their resourcefulness.
Life inevitably brings rejection, disappointments, hurts, and criticism throughout the years. Everyone needs the ability to take these set backs without being totally devastated, and treat them as part of life, to learn and recover from. The child who has its hands washed constantly with disinfectant and is never allowed to play in mud, will never build up resistance to germs, and will have a vulnerable immune system that has not learned to deal with infections. That is not what we want for our children.
The same is true with life experience. All parents want to protect their children from harm and unpleasant experiences, give them everything that they possibly can. This is especially true if the parent (s) themselves had a tough up-bringing, where they had nothing, or where the parents have split up and are trying to compensate for any disruptions to the family environment.
It is important to teach children the full range of emotions, not just the good ones. They need to learn how to cope with pain. loss, fear, so that they can cope with life. In this way they learn about their own potential. Failure and struggle are big, important teachers. They are often the most important lessons of all, the things that are learned by working hard, that perhaps didn't come right first time, that had to be re visited several times before they came together.
Teaching how to manage their own money and the consequences of overspending, being responsible for small jobs or tasks, even from an early age can help children become positively independent.
They learn about life and responsibility and how to value what they have. Important skills for later life.
It can be useful for parents to occasionally take time away from the family home, leaving the children with appropriate care. This is important for the parents' relationship, because it invests time in their partnership, away from being busy parents, and can help to keep it fresh and alive.
As the children get older, it is important for parents to find time for their own interests and social life.
Maintaining friends, hobbies, keeping in touch with their identities as individuals, separate from being parents. A stay at home parent might want to think about a job. Even part time work introduces an extra dimension to life, separate from the home.
Its also important for the children to have time away from the parents so that they learn to cope without them, and discover that they can do it. It is good for children to feel that they are trusted by their parents as being competent and ready to stand on their own two feet, whilst at the same time knowing that its okay if they need a little input - support or advice - if things don't go quite to plan.
Growing up is a learning process for both parent and child. Recognising that each child is unique and different, experiences events in their own personal way and is completely different to everyone else is part of the learning process. Balance is the key to a positive outcome.
And remember, animals rear their young for a time and then abandon them. They have done their job and it's up to the young animal to survive from then on. Whilst we, as humans, take a more responsible approach it's still important to remember that our children are a temporary part of our lives, and then they move on to their own lives. Enjoy the opportunity and the responsibility, whilst keeping some identity and life of your own for when they are gone.

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