We have just started year 3 away from home for dear daughter. Her heading away to college came with very short notice in the middle of an incredibly busy summer! The university was close enough for us to get there in an emergency and far enough away for her to need to move out. She moved 10 days after her brother's wedding across the country and a mere 6 weeks after her acceptance into the university.
This meant that whatever prep we had done for her living on her own had to be complete already. Those 6 weeks were full of finding an apartment and furnishing said apartment, hiring movers and getting ready to travel to/from the wedding. In other words, as a "helicopter parent" my helicopter had better have already taken off...and landed!
You've heard about helicopter parents, right? They're always all the rage in the news when kids go back to college. These are the parents who hover above their little darlings, smoothing their path every step of the way. I even read about one parent who was doing her daughter's homework in COLLEGE, because she wanted her to succeed. I shudder to think about what she was planning to do
The truth of the matter, of course, is that parents are trying to work themselves OUT of a job. But our instincts are to make everything wonderful for our precious kiddos; like we did for the first part of their lives. But, don't you remember what it felt like when you were first on your own? OK, not everything was wonderful. There were burned dinners and missed opportunities. BUT those opportunities...the potential-- glorious, wasn't it?
I am so glad that Cindy had her chance to take on the world. She was starting at a brand new state university. Even the professors were new to the campus. The buildings were new, the classes were new. So everyone had an equal opportunity to screw things up! But she didn't. She succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Clue #1--if your dreams have limits, don't tell your kiddo. That way they'll really reach for their own dreams!
Instead, start teaching them to live on their own early. Let them pour their drinks over the dishwasher door, so that the drips are contained in the dishwasher. Let them mop your floors with the socks on their feet. Let them try while they're in a controlled environment. Clue #2--If it's not good enough, tell them...but gently. You don't want to extinguish the flame, just trim the wick!
Think about what your little precious ones will need to know out in the real world. One of the things that I did for Cindy was to put a section in her cookbook binder for those things that don't happen often and their remedies. Let's face it folks, a cold/fever/flu is always at it's worst at 2 a.m...and I'm not at MY best then either! And send them off with an "emergency meds kit" so that they are ready to handle it. Clue #3--Set them up for success!
And lastly, give them room to grow. A potted plant can't grow any bigger than the pot that it is in. At some point, you have to let your plant grow bigger than your 4 walls. Give them a chance to try. Be there when they need support, but let them know that you KNOW they can do it! Clue #4--Because, you know what? They CAN!
Oh...and one last clue--THE EMPTY NEST ROCKS!
Feeling blessed, how about you?