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Letting go of our kids...

Letting go of our kids as they grow up, is something that every parent has to face at one time or another. So how do we do it? And how do we do it and not feel worried, afraid and stressed about our children?

Some of these feelings are natural. As parents we have to experience these feelings or we wouldn't be quite normal. Some of us will feel these things much more than others. And some, on the outside, are quite comfortable with letting go. Here are some things you can do to make it easier...

Like a house is built, if the foundations are strong, then the house will weather all sorts of storms. This is the same for our kids. You have nurtured your children. You have navigated them through the foundation years of their lives. And if you have built strong foundations, then they too will weather the storms of life. But what are those foundations? Those foundations are resilience, self esteem, responsibility, consequence and respect.

It is vital that our children learn resilience to bounce back from life's events when they get hurt or are sad or angry about a circumstance or situation. It is vital that they experience those feelings of hurt and betrayal or disappointment and sadness because they are human. The question is how long it takes them to bounce back and not get stuck in their sadness or anger. As parents or carers, its our job to teach them and guide them through these things.

Leading by example is an excellent way to teach all of these life lessons. Let your children see you upset. Let them see you experience anger (in a safe environment. I'm not talking about rage or uncontrollable anger). Let them see you work through it come out the other side.

As parents or carers, we have a responsibility to look at ourselves through the eyes of our children. A great way to see how you are perceived is to think back to your own experiences growing up. Did your parents fight and argue? Did they get angry at the drop of a hat? Did you ever see your father cry? How did these situations make you feel? How much are you like your parents?

Children gain a massive understanding of how to handle life's situations through us, their parents. If a child is misbehaving, look at your own behaviour. Is there something you need to change to show your children that there are better ways of coping and better ways of handling life events.

To let go is very difficult. To trust that your child can fend for themselves is a challenge that we all face. When they are little you have them there by your side. You know where they are. You know what they eat. you know everything about them. As they grow up they move away from you. Sometimes they will argue. Sometimes they will fight you. This is all quite normal as they are testing their own boundaries. We are there as their safety. We are there to set their boundaries. Discipline and screaming and shouting doesn't get anyone anywhere. Taking things from them only causes more heartache and upset. So what do you do?

Let them make decisions and then support them in their decisions. A great example is a young person who would like to quit school and get a job. Parents get upset because we know how hard the real world is. And we know what will probably happen down the track. The regrets, the mistakes we made. We have to remember that they haven't yet experienced those regrets. And no matter how much we try to tell our kids about our own mistakes, they will still do what they want to do. Talk to your children. Screaming at them about consequences will pass through one ear and out the other.

Ask them, for what reason do you want to leave school and get a job? And then listen. Let them speak. Hold all of your regrets, mistakes and opinions and just listen. Listen with an open mind. An open heart. Ask them what their plan is. Say something like, "Ok I hear (or I see or I feel) what you are saying and that sounds great. So what is your plan. If we go into school tomorrow and you tell the you are leaving, what is the next step?". Then sit with them and formulate a plan. You may find by the end of the conversation that they no longer want to leave school. And there was no shouting and no upset that had to be done to achieve a full circle.

This is just one small example. Think about your own childhood. What would you have wanted your parents to do differently? As our children grow we need to give them room to experience all of these things in a safe space. Once they are out in the world, they need to know that they have a safe place to fall down. Which is you.

Letting them make their own small decisions is important practice for the world they are about to enter. I see so many young people get to 18 and finally they are adults and its what they always wanted. Their parents let go swiftly and say ok you are an adult off you go. And they fall. Badly. Because they had been held onto so much and told what to eat and when to eat and when to laugh and when to cry that they think being free as an adult is the most amazing thing. Until they get there. So start letting them make small decisions so that they can build up to the big ones. Let them go to the party but perhaps have conditions. For eg, "Yes you can go to the party, however, I would like to be the one to pick you up when you are ready to go home. Would that be ok?". Ask the for their ok. Let them make the decision.

Navigating parenting is a challenge. And is not for the faint hearted. But there are ways that you can make it easier for you and for them. Listening, really listening to your children is most important. Being patient and letting them make decisions is important. Giving them the opportunity to make small mistakes is important. Showing your children that you can experience a variety of emotions and still come out smiling is important. We are preparing these kids for the world. A big and sometimes scary world. But you have been chosen. And it is up to you to build those strong foundations so that , the house stays up and can weather any storm.


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