WHEN YOU HATE TO SEE YOUR KIDS GROWING UP
Part of being a parent is working yourself out of a job. And since changing jobs—like moving to any new stage in life—is a stressful proposition, many parents fall into the trap of resisting their children’s natural maturing.
You may be rebelling against your kids’ growing up if:
- You do a double take when acquaintances comment on how tall your “baby” is getting.
- You panic whenever someone suggests your child try an away-from-home program.
- You feel personally insulted if your child brings home a library book without first asking your advice on what to read.
- You spend all your spare time working for your children: grooming them, cooking for them, playing with them, homeschooling them, solving their problems.
- You’ve never even considered what you’ll do with empty-nest days to come.
If any of these sound familiar, beware! You may be on a path to either alienating your children completely or keeping them so dependent you’ll still be “raising” them thirty years hence.
What to do about it:
First, Understand Your Own Feelings
No question: besides maintaining a comfortable status quo, having our children stay children appeals to our pride. Having someone thoroughly dependent on you is burdensome, but it also makes you feel powerful and important. (There’s an extra risk if your partner is the family’s sole wage-earner, or if your own job is low-status and low- income, or if you otherwise lack “clout” in other areas of life.) Look for, and own up to, any areas where “concern” for your children is really a concern for yourself.
Once you have a clear picture there, it’s easier to face changes in your role as a parent.
Listen to Your Children
Don’t just assume you know what they want and why. Give them a chance to personally express their desires, answer your concerns, and brainstorm ways to get where they want to be.
Pursue Your Non-Parenting Interests
- If you don’t have or want a paying job, consider volunteer work.
- Take a continuing-education class.
- Find a hobby or service group through your religious congregation or community center, or through Meetup.com.
- Invite some friends for a weekly coffee or virtual “date.”
- Resume any favorite pre-parenting activities you’ve been neglecting. Or find new hobby/sports/DIY ideas through your library or Amazon.com.
Plan in Advance How You Will Cope With Transition Stress
The following hints (there are endless resources for finding more) will help you further prepare not only for your children’s growing up, but for moves, income changes, and other transitions that affect your family.
- Accept that transition is always a matter of “not if but when.”
- Know what you will do to ensure that everyone’s health and relationships remain well nurtured.
- Give yourself permission to experience negative feelings about change—without letting those feelings control your actions.
- Leave margin in your overall schedule, and your list of other commitments, so you’ll have more room to deal with unexpected events.
- Do everything you can to build your, and your children’s self-confidence. It’ll keep you all emotionally equipped to deal with change when it comes!