I’ve been getting ready for my 5-year old granddaughter’s overnight visit, sorting through my crafting supplies, planning food, etc. It got me thinking about the importance of our children having their own lives away from us. As a child, I loved going almost anywhere. Even at an early age, I knew that there was a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. I spent nights, whole weekends and even weeks at a time at my aunt and uncle’s house with my three cousins. My brother didn’t like going away from home, so I often went alone. I don’t ever remember being homesick, and I was never afraid. The rules were different, they ate different foods – it was not at all like my own home. And, I loved it!
As a mom, I knew how important it was for my own children to experience that same sense of freedom and autonomy. They often had friends overnight and often went for overnights at friends’ and relative’s houses. It’s true that it takes a village to raise a child. Children need to expand their horizons beyond their immediate families. They need to feel part of a larger world. However, it’s hard for parents to trust others to care for their children as much or as well. It means letting go for the parents, and I think that’s the hardest piece of the puzzle. My husband struggled with it because, unlike me, he never experienced growing up in a village. I am always amazed at how many people missed out on that all-important piece of childhood. Naturally, if we never experienced this richness for ourselves, we have no context for realizing its value.
I’m heartened by the number of young couples I know who have regular date nights, another important thing for the relationship and great modeling for your child. I don’t think our lives should stop when we become parents. Involving and including our children is important, but equally important is showing them how adults live. That’s how they learn, through our modeling. If we trust others to care for them, they will trust others, too. If we constantly protect them, they will have a harder time learning to protect themselves. If we do everything for them, they will struggle with learning to care for themselves. If we are afraid for them, they will be afraid.
Childhood is full of trials. We can’t protect our children from everything, though we often try to delay those trials. In the same way that they get bumps and bruises from falling, they will get bumps and bruises from relationships and experiences. We need to be there to help them get back up and heal from those things, but sooner or later they will experience difficult things. Is it better to wait until they’re older and less likely to turn to us? I don’t know. I know that some of my favorite childhood memories are of being away from home with friends and relatives. And, I felt closer to Aunt Meg and Uncle Bill, who were the parents of my mom’s best friend, than to my own grandparents. I spent many days and overnights there, and cherish the memories of every visit.
Here's a great website that addresses this. HOW TO LET MY CHILD GROW UP
For My Child [JLE 2006 Poetry Verse Form: Heroic Couplet]
I make my plans for you from birth
Carefully carving out your worth
So wrapped up in who you'll be
I neglect your individuality
I want to protect you all your life
Keep you safe from danger and strife
Temptation and pressure attack you all day
How as a parent can I keep it away?
I pray that you'll receive God's grace
And when you need to, slow your pace
Will my guidance be enough?
To guard and keep you from all that stuff?
My goal in life is to see you succeed
What's the best way to plant that seed?
I'll give you the room to make a mistake
I'll trust you with each step you take
I'll tell you "I LOVE YOU" when you make a mess
I'll tell you "NO" when I want to say, "YES."
I'll give you the space to set your tone
Adjust my expectations as you create your own.
And, here's a fun and easy craft idea for the new year - a memory box. The idea is that you wrap a shoe-box or similar sized box so that the top can be removed without unwrapping, then put 2018 on the top. Throughout the year, you collect memories, ticket stubs, photos, cards, etc. At the end of the year, you open the box and relive those fun times together. MEMORY BOX