August 12, 2022

Letting go of my child’s childhood…

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My youngest has reached 16 soon to be seventeen, his journey into adulthood appears so less straight forward than his older sister’s was.

From the moment my children were born I had an overwhelming feeling of protection and responsibility.  As parents we naturally want to see our children happy and fulfilled. When they have reached adolescence, it seems counter intuitive and almost feels impossible to let go of the people we have been programmed to look after

My son struggled through secondary school, and he was a victim of bullying, as a result he struggled to make connections and build friendships for the whole five years he was there. The protector in me stepped up a gear during the last few years of his school life trying constantly to make him happy during his darkest days. Now he is pulling away from me and is trying to build a life post school and I am buzzing around him like a rescue helicopter ready to pick him up if he falls. My behaviour is not doing him or me any favours.

So I have been reading up about emotional parenting v wise parenting and reflecting on parenting through adolescence, as neither of mine came with any kind of ‘how to’ manual and I did not learn much from my own parents. The advice I do connect with is to not to try and make our children happy all the time as this is not preparing them for life as adults.  Allowing them to make mistakes and make their own decisions and choices is very important.  I also reflect on my own experience in my own childhood in which I experienced trauma, I can see how I have may have overcompensated for this at times in raising my children.

I guess the most important thing I have needed to question is why I am trying to over protect him. I can see it is because of my own experiences as a child and how I felt back then when I was transitioning into adulthood, I felt petrified, alone and scared that I would not cope well in a world of adults.  What I must remind myself is I did ok, I got a job, I learnt to drive, I brought a house and built a life, all on my own and by the time I got married and made the decision to have children I had achieved so much more than I thought I ever would, all without a rescue helicopter.   

Did I make mistakes? Yes, did I make the wrong choices?, Most definitely yes but they were my decisions and choices to make.  Having the freedom and empowerment to do so is what I craved, and I still do. My son wants independence he wants to make his own decisions as we all do and even if I see trouble ahead, well I just need to guide him to reflect on his decisions and support him whatever his choices.

I need to have more faith and trust in my son to go about his business into man hood, already he has secured a part time job, he has achieved great things with his boxing and he has found himself in situations that he has found really challenging and which triggered his anxiety, but he is learning to manage this and I am proud of him.

My final thoughts on this are it is more about me letting go of my childhood fears lived through him. Letting go of being needed as much by him and his sister. It is not saying goodbye to motherhood as such as I will always be there to support them as their mother, but our relationship will be different built on trust, respect, understanding and mutual support.

I look forward to seeing my fledglings fly.