I have two sons in their twenties and often read articles written by parents about the woes of letting go. They often lament about how much they miss their kids after they go off to college and about how sad they are. Consequently, I am often asked by people if I miss my sons. I don’t really miss my sons because I still speak to them on a regular basis and they are still very much a part of my life. In fact, we utilize technology and have them participate in special family dinners via skype or facetime. I like having more time to myself, as well as having extra time with my spouse alone. Plus we make the time to visit each other in person occasionally and I still have one more teenager at home.
Yes, I cried both times my two sons left for college. However, I did not wish that things were not changing and I did not wish that they were still living at home; the tears were of concern. Did I teach them enough to be out on their own? Would the world be kind to them? The tears were also of excitement and relief. I am very fortunate that after lots of research, my sons both found colleges where they would experience great joy and make lifelong friendships just like I did when I went off to college.
Having my sons go off to college was the culmination of a process that started off when they were in middle school and they started making major strides toward independence. I never had an expectation that my sons would stay at home. I knew that I had to start preparing them to be independent and to go out on their own. I had to let go of the dreams that I had for them and begin to help them develop dreams of their own.
There are Benefits to “Letting Go”.
I Have Grown as a Person. Going through the teenage years with my sons and daughter, I have learned to be more patient. Furthermore, Discussions with my young adult sons have helped me become a better listener and have expanded my world view. I have also become more adept at handling chaotic and ever changing situations.
My Sons Have Developed a Great Support System. My sons have chosen great friends that share their interests and values. My sons have also maintained a relationship with their siblings and developed great relationships with teachers, co-workers, and other adults along the way. I can give them advice and help them work through the pros and cons of making certain decisions. However, their friends, siblings, and adult mentors can also give them valuable advice from a different perspective.
The World Is A Better Place. My sons have gone on to do things that I did not imagine. They contribute and give back to the community. My oldest son does cancer research and my middle son is the academic chair at his fraternity. I am so proud of the young adults that they have become.
I am very fortunate to have enjoyed every stage of life for my children from the time that they were infants until now. Of course, there have been challenging times as there will always be from time to time. However, each stage of life is different and special in its own way. I look forward to what the future brings.
Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens has programs for both parents and teens to help teens create their own unique path to college success.
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