Last night I sat down with every good intention of writing and publishing a blog post. I sat and looked at the blank screen for some time before giving up and going to bed. My mind was devoid of inspiration.
Not a lot has changed in 24 hours but I have several ideas for blog posts now. Tonight I want to share an editorial which I read this morning. It is from a small local newsletter in Brisbane. I do not normally read this publication but it was passed on to me for another reason and I happened to read this column which is a very thought-provoking piece of writing and is something that is worth passing on.
Our daughter is doing a gap year this year, and as part of that, is spending eight weeks in Nepal. She had chosen Nepal way before the earthquakes hit,in fact, she bought her flights the day before the first earthquake in April. You can imagine as parents, the prospect of her still going to Nepal after not one, but two significant disasters, was challenging to say the least!
Watching her walk under that ‘departure’ sign by herself was a very hard parenting moment. But we did it! Waiting to hear from her after the plane had landed that she was with staff and at the hotel was a very long two hours. But we did it!
In the lead up to her trip, the various responses about it to us as parents has been interesting. We’ve had people look at us like we are the most irresponsible parents in the world, others who just shake their heads heads and say they wouldn’t allow their child to do it, those who’ve just said they wouldn’t be able to do it, and those few who thought it was fantastic.
I chatted it over with a wise and wonderful friend of mine and worried that if something happened to her, and we knew we could have stopped her going, we would never forgive ourselves. She said, “Stopping her from going would have been an abuse of your parental power.”
That gave me so much comfort in the days before her flight. Although we probably could have talked her out of it (I think!), there is no way we should have. Whenever we’re given the privilege of an invitation by our adult children to weigh in on their decision making, we need to be mindful that it is just that – a privilege. We don’t have any right to say what they should do once grown. We need to give them that unconditional love – regardless of whether that decision is going to make us uncomfortable by stressing us or causing us to worry.
We’ve already had a bit of practice with this, since our 24 year old son will never, ever have a nice safe job in an office and a house in the suburbs five doors down from us. He has always sought a ‘unsafe’ life and has never shied away from doing ‘the hard thing’ either. Not that he is reckless or risk-raking for the sake of it, quite the opposite. His decisions are calculated and thoughtful. But they are not ‘safe’ from a parental perspective.
Too often we view are children as possessions, something to be proud of and shown off to our friends. And we are far too often worried about how their decisions affect us, rather than them.
We need to take a step back sometimes and check where we are coming from. Are we advising them based on our fears or their best life, whatever that may look like?
Our children are not ‘ours’. They are their own. And the more we realise that, the more peace we will have, no matter what they decide to do or where they decide to go to do it.
What do you think? I would love to hear your views and personal experiences.