Parenting is all about keeping our kids close, and at the same time letting them go.
This is the paradox of parenting.
We need to hold our kids close.
We need support them and love them unconditionally. We need to always provide a safe place for them to return to. We need to build a strong foundation
… and then we need to let them go.
We need to let our kids go.
We need to let them be independent, to develop self confidence and find out who they are. We need to let them experience the world and all it has to offer, good and bad. We need to let them learn from experience and become their own person.
You can not have one without the other.
They are not ready to be let go unless we also hold them close.
But you can’t have it all one way either, it is a balancing act, and one that I don’t always get right.
It was easier when they were little.
Babies are all about holding close.
When they are tiny it is all about building bonds and being a constant for our little ones. But even then, in those earliest days, we are already letting go just a little. They are no longer part of our bodies, we hand them over to friends and relatives for cuddles, we leave them with Dad or Grandma for a much needed break. We are ever so slightly letting go.
We have to do it… we need to do it… for ourselves and for our children.
In those early days those little letting goes are preparing us, ever so gently, for the bigger ones.
My twins, my first-borns, my teeny tiny baby girls are eleven today.
As that number sinks in and I realise I can no long pretend I am not parenting tweens, and that puberty is still ‘down the track’, I am also realising that I am now in that precarious position of letting go as much as I am holding close.
The questions and decisions about letting my girls grow and become independent loom large and scary…
Are they responsible enough to stay home alone?
Can they go to that sleep over?
Should they put their name down for that week long school camp?
Are they doing too many after school activities?
How will they handle access to the internet and their own computer next year?
Are they coping with friend issues?
At the same time I feel the weight of time passing and I know that now is when I need to fortify that strong foundation.
Now is the time to hold them close so they know we will always be here, that they can always come to us, that we will always help them, and always love them, no matter what.
So much of parenting is about juggling… and this is no different. Sometimes I get it wrong and balls fly everywhere, but you have to toss them up to have a chance at getting it right.
So I’ll keep on juggling and I’ll keep on holding them close so that I can let them go.
How do you balance holding close and letting go as a parent?
Find more of my ponderings on parenting here.
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Kate A says
Well said Kate. How true too. I shake my head at my 9 year old and wonder where the years are going so fast! Its scary for me to let go a bit but I’m trying. I also hold her close, physically and spiritually, by long chats, laughing, dancing and chats in the car. I so look forward to watching her spread her wings and shine but part of me will miss the little child she was/still is. But I must remember that is my issue, not hers, and let her lead the way, me always a step behind (even in the shadows!!) to cheer her on the way. Happiest of birthdays to your beautiful girls!
Deb Dane says
i am in the same place with my 11 1/2 yr old and almost 10 yr old. i had a lot of independence growing up and now i want the same for them but 1) much harder as the parent lol and 2) hard to define what is right for us vs what their friends parents are/are not comfortable with and omg puberty i admit i am ill equipped!!
Lauren Tamm says
Oh goodness Kate, your blog provides such useful and wonderful insight to the new mom. Even as a young toddler, I find it challenging to hold my son close so I can let him go. Watching a child grow, develop, and learn new things is so rewarding, yet so heartbreaking as a parent. Thanks for your wise words.
Lauren Tamm says
*Even WITH a young toddler.
This is beautiful! That’s the challenge and the wonder of parenting – we love them, support them, nurture them, and if all goes well, then we have to let them go. Happy birthday to your “babies”!