Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s time to let our children go! I don’t mean that we don’t love them or ardently wish for their happiness! What I’m talking about is that feeling when we realize that it’s time to step back, to honor their connection to their partner or to their friends, even, before OUR connection to them. Even when they are in elementary school, we might need to start this process. We get to take a look at how much we focus our lives on them. We get to keep evaluating this all their lives and making adjustments that support the evolution of both of you.
It’s so easy to become enmeshed with our kids, that strong focus on them, wanting to be part of every aspect of their lives. Sometimes it happens when we are single parents and we rely too much on our kids for connection, camaraderie, and emotional support. We aren’t intending to do this, but they are our built-in partners. Sometimes it happens because they don’t want to move out and pay rent somewhere and have to fend for themselves. Sometimes they struggle socially and depend on you to be their friend. This, along with your own loneliness, can be a recipe for you to become dependent on each other.
How many of us experienced this in our childhoods, that we had a parent who was dependent on us? How many of us repeated the cycle with our own kids? And “kids” can be almost 30, as my daughter is, or younger or older. That attachment that doesn’t serve either of us, actually, can go on our whole lives. I know of families in which the single mom still lives with their 30-year-old daughter. Or the family where the long-grown son still lives at home and Mom does his laundry and cooking. And Mom is not that happy with her husband and doesn’t want to be left alone with him, so she is happy to have her grown children live with them.
Or you can become aware of it, get support to make the shift and work to develop an updated version of your love that is healthier. In this relationship version 2.0 (or 13.2 or whatever it is), you GET to support their connections with others by focusing more on your OWN primary relationships and your own potential or make the space to even FIND a primary relationship of your own or find our individual passion. You get to be aware of how much of your focus was on their lives and not fulfilling your own potential and offering your gifts to the world.
We are not taught that we can keep growing and changing and creating our identities and ourselves all our lives! We are taught that parenting is our primary relationship, and no doubt it’s one of the most important roles of our lives. But, if we don’t evolve out of that as our primary job, we not only limit ourselves, but we cripple our children, making them dependent on us for things that they should be relying on themselves and their partners for.
It can be so painful to let them go onto their own lives…to wait for them to call you and text you, not calling them every day, not thinking of a million little reasons that you need to talk to them. Give yourself the miraculous gift of having a brand, new life. Find a hobby. Find a book club, an exercise class or a new career. I’ve started a new career at 69 and it helped me tremendously in letting go of my daughter. And, wonder of wonders, sometimes it leads to a renewal of love and passion with your partner, or maybe finding a partner after a long single spell.
Does this mean that you never see your beloved children? Absolutely NOT! It’s just a new way of relating that is more individuated, clearer that each of you has a better sense of who you are without the other one. It’s a lovely transition if you feel yourself as more passionate about your own life, growing and changing in your own transformations. And, often, it gives your child a new perspective of your value to them as a person, not a parent, a person who is smart and competent and has a ton of life experience that they can rely on when they need it. At the same time, you get to see your child’s gifts and strength more clearly, too. It gives a deeper and richer value to your connection, not one of dependency and convenience, but purpose and mutual support. This is true whether your children are 6 or 60.
Today, let’s take a deep and honest look at our relationships with our kids. Let’s celebrate their independence and ours (to whatever degree is age appropriate)! And let’s remember that we each are given a destiny to fulfill and gifts to give the world and that our greatest happiness and fulfillment will come from following that guidance!