Wilder's Whole World ... Exclusively on mySherDenBuzz.com
By Dwayne Wilder
Do you know what the hardest part of being a parent is?
It is letting those children live their own lives. That sounds simple enough, but not so easy in practice. It is difficult to let go; to cut the apron strings; or to view them as adults.
As young adults, we have had a few years to think about ourselves as parents. If you go back to when you were 12 or 13, you might remember those first thoughts of what you would do if you were ‘in charge’ of a baby. As the years go by, you realize that you are closer than ever to bringing those thoughts to reality. Once you marry, it’s just a matter of time...
We are all just doing the best we can when the baby comes. Those ‘firsts’ are tempered with anxiety and even fear if we are doing it ‘right.’ We ask questions of our own parents, friends and even older relatives. We want to do our best to raise a person who we would be proud of; a person who exhibits the traits we hold dear.
Soon, the diapers are gone and the ‘Why’ questions start. We do things for them out of necessity or convenience. Those actions simply become part of life for both you and the child. Neither one of you knows or thinks about a difference. You play your roles and life goes on.
School is that first hint that a parent must let the child live. You must let go of some control and give it over to the child and of course, a teacher and principal. But for the first time, that child isn’t totally dependent on the parent. That first day of kindergarten is full of tears – not just for the children, but for the parents as well. It’s a break in the emotional tie that binds us parent to child; a necessary one but a painful one nonetheless.
Class parties and Christmas shows come next. It is the time for the children to shine and the parents to touch their open hands to chests in awe.
A kindergarten graduation blows you away…
Those elementary years go by so fast. I know because they just ended for me as a parent. I had the incredible privilege to be at home when my son, Ryan, was a baby. Yeah, I was Mr. Mom and it’s easily the best years of my life. Not only did I get to play catch with him but I got to help him learn about blocks and reading and noses/fingers/toes. I was there when he took his first step and I was the one who put that ball in front of him the first time he kicked it.
And I have another gift: he’s not the first child I’ve help raise. I had the honor of raising another son and daughter from my first marriage. I’ve watched them grow and become productive citizens and parents themselves. I get to use those lessons with Ryan.
When they are about 12, children begin to see the world as a place they can view independently. It is the first steps to adulthood; they see themselves in the world and being part of that world. They begin to break away from the parents in little ways: a sleepover here- a campout there – an extended trip in the summer with church or relatives. And way to soon, they are in high school. The driver’s license and dating are more cuts to those ties. They are becoming not only independent of you; they are becoming their own person.
As parents, we have spent 18 years looking after them in every way imaginable. We have taught them to look both ways; not to eat bugs and to pass the catsup. We have smiled at their problems and kissed their booboos. We have tucked them in and made them an unbelievable number of breakfasts.
To feel those ties being cut; those strings being untied is to tear out our hearts. Of course, we want them to be happy, but there is always our own emotional state to consider.
When do we let them be who they are going to be? When do we stop helping them even when we can see the destructive nature of their path?
When do we let them fail?
Sure, some of those times come in the confines of those first 18 years. It is safe for them because they have us. Yet, in the long run, it is those times AFTER 18 that are the toughest; both for you and for them.
I don’t have any magic answers. I was fortunate the first time around to have to great individuals long before they were adults. Sure, they made mistakes but they have come through it the better. I am proud of them for who they are.
When do we let them fail?
I don’t know; there is no set time or age. Sometimes, you don’t have to at all and other times, it’s the only thing you can do, even if it tears your heart out again and again. One has to stay true to oneself even in the face of parenting.
And I think that’s the hardest part of all.