|Copyright 2015 Gerlinde Keating. All Rights Reserved.|
One of the most rewarding and equally heartbreaking relationships in our lives is that of parent and child. It doesn't matter if the relationship is biological, relational, legal, or custodial, the bond that develops between the caregiver and the child is a strong emotional one.
As parents, we put our time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, and love into raising our child and ensuring that they can function effectively in the world. We teach them how to follow the laws of our society, we help to educate them, we discipline and guide them when necessary, and above all, we love them. We try to instill in them a sense of morals and values and we spend endless hours worrying over them as they become more and more independent.
This devotion and care to the raising of our child creates a bond that will last a lifetime. It doesn't matter if the child comes to the parent as a newborn, a toddler, a young child, or a teenager. The parent-child bond will form at any age as long as the parent offers the love and care the child needs.
As parents, we do all that we can to ensure our child's wellbeing and our child relies on us for things they cannot provide for themselves. In this respect, we are not much different from the animals. Most species are highly protective of their young and many species protect and care for their young long after birth until their offspring are able to fend for themselves. However, here is where the similarities end.
The human parent-child bond can sometimes be a stifling, unhealthy connection. Every child will eventually reach a stage where they no longer need their parent to care for them or provide for their every need. Eventually, all the child will require of their parent is love, support, and understanding. This can be a difficult transition for many parents. It is often heart-wrenching to watch your child step out into the world and know that you are no longer needed as much in their lives. You hope that they make good choices and are safe and can navigate the adult world. Your heart breaks when the choices they make are poor ones with life altering consequences and you are tempted to jump in and do everything you can to protect your child and ensure their safety. However, at some point, each parent must come to the realization that their child needs to make some mistakes in order to learn and grow and mature. This realization does not make it any less difficult to watch as our child struggles and often gets hurt.
As parents of maturing children, it is our job and our duty to let our children make their own choices and learn to deal with the consequences of those decisions.
Cutting the apron strings is hard for most parents but it is necessary to our child's own growth. As tempting as it may be to step in and clean up the mess our child creates, where we see only loving concern, our child may see meddling and a lack of faith on our part in their capabilities. A loving, devoted parent does not step in to fix every little hurt or mistake that our child struggles through. A loving, devoted parent waits patiently, offers support, encouragement, and unconditional love, and if asked may offer advice to their struggling child. A loving, devoted parent does not take from our child the opportunity to learn and grow from their own choices and mistakes.
It is hard to transition from caregiver to cheering section. It is not easy to cope with our child's broken heart while our own is breaking for them. It is not easy to step back and let our child stumble and fall and get up only to stumble again. It is not easy but it is necessary if we wish our child to grow and mature and find their own way in life.
At some point in our child's life, the most loving thing we can do for our child is to stop being their parent and become their friend. When is that moment? It is unique to each child. Some are ready to leave the safety of home and are mature enough to venture out into the world when they are as young as eighteen. Others are not ready even though they may be looking at their thirtieth birthday. Whether they are older or younger when they are ready to take on adulthood, a loving parent will be by their side encouraging and reassuring them that they are capable of entering the world as competent adults. Will it be easy for the parent? It is not an easy thing to do but then again, when we entered into this relationship with our child, there were never any promises that the relationship would be easy, but it is worth every moment. - Lisa Watkins / examiner.com
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