Monday, September 04, 2006

Parental Controls

My husband and I live with two teenage boys. It's not as bad as you think, I promise. In fact, most of the time it's pretty wonderful. We're at that point when we are looking at the prospect of an empty nest in less than four years. That's supposed to be a good thing, right?

Why is it that many moms of my generation are doing everything they can to delay that rite of passage? We're holding on for dear life, as if their growing up is our death.

But maybe it is. It is an ending of sorts. An ending to the life we've led for 18+ years. We were involved, engaged, intertwined - in their education, their healthcare, their extracurricular activities, even their friendships. We orchestrated much of it, and now we're a leader without a band.

There's much out there about how to deal with the empty nest syndrome. However, it is a recent phenomenon in our society. Since more and more families move away from their extended families and many of our elderly find themselves living alone (assisted or unassisted), there is a gaping hole in our family when a child moves out.

My concern isn't so much how to "deal" with the empty nest syndrome, but to take a more pro-active instead of reactive approach. But I notice that some of my peers think differently than I do about this subject.

Some parents buy bigger houses when their children graduate high school. In the words of one of my friends, "I want them to have room to spread out when they come home." Both her children are in college, yet she expects that they will return to the nest when they graduate.

Some parents also buy bigger houses to accomodate the return of their grown children with their grandchildren in tow.

We've held on so tight from the day we brought them home from the hosptial in their state of the art ultra safety car seat. We make sure they don't get on a tricycle without a helmet. We got them fingerprinted ID's from the sherriff's office when they were toddlers. We made sure they went to the right preschool, the right church, played with the right friends. We homeschooled, worked from home, attended every soccer game, piano recital, and ballet lesson.

We drove the car of their lives with white knuckles - and now it's time to let go.

Not an easy thing to do, but oh, so necessary. Not for us, but for them. Our kids deserve a chance at their own lives, making their own choices, their own mistakes, and taking their own bows. We've spent so much time "enabling" them to do what they do that we've ended up "disabling" them to go off and do it on their own when it's time. We've handicapped our own children!

How is it that we only desired to give them wings, and discovered, to our dismay, that we've clipped them instead?

I want my kids to fly away to their own home. And I want a smaller house to clean!

What do you want?