My Brenna is nine (“Mom, I’m nine and a half!” she would tell you) and far too independent for my peace of mind. She has always been that way – eager to try new experiences, to meet new people, and to leave me behind as she finds her own way.
Honestly, I’ve always been quite impressed by her gregarious nature, so much like her father’s, and her open-arms approach to new situations. Knowing her personality, I never worried when the time came to leave her in new situations where I wouldn’t be her first point of contact if something went wrong. Preschool was a breeze. Even kindergarten held no tears for either of us.
But this year presented a new challenge – summer camp. A week away. Out of the county. No phone contact. No seeing my child at the end of the day. And, to make the week just a little bit more difficult, Central Iowa has had massive storms every night she’s been gone. Definitely not good for this mommy’s nerves!
I’ve learned quite a bit about the parent-child relationship, and myself, this past week. Though I’ve missed her something fierce, the week has been easier than I first thought it would be.
5 Tips to Help You Master the Art of Letting Go
You don’t have to be a helicopter parent! These five tips (and a few deep, steadying breaths) will help you let go as your child becomes more independent.
Don’t let your fears show. It’s natural to worry about your child. And it’s even okay to let your child know when something worries you. But don’t let your fears keep your child from living her life. Remember – it’s not about you.
Your child is only as prepared as you let him be. Without your guidance, your child won’t learn right from wrong. Teach him self-reliance. Let him learn how to do things right by first doing things wrong. And then, make him correct the things that are wrong. Even if it takes two, three, four – or more – tries.
Don’t let her see you cry. If you aren’t brave when your child is leaving the safety of your home, how can your child be? Save the tears for after your child has happily hugged you goodbye and is excitedly rushing into her cabin to create a sign for her bed.
No news is good news. Resist the urge to “just check in.” If you don’t receive a phone call from the nurse or counselor, that is enough to know that everything is just fine. (Though I do admit to checking my mailbox daily for a post card.)
Let her know you’ll always be there. You know it as well as I do – sometimes you just need your mom. You don’t have to always be “there” for your child to know you will “be there” when she really needs you. So when your child comes home, really listen to her experiences, talk with her about anything that might have made her nervous, and discuss any problems she might have had. Not only does this help your child to have a better understanding of what to do the next time a similar situation arises, but it also builds her trust that she can come to you with any problem, any time.
As your children get older you have to learn to let go, little by little, to let them succeed and fail on their own, without you there to fix the hurts and pick up the pieces. You cannot raise an independent adult if you don’t first raise an independent child. And to do that, you have to be willing to let go once in a while.