Teach them to walk

I must have been really young when my mom left me alone with a trusted babysitter. I’m sure it was a family member because my mom was ultra paranoid about who we were with even when I was well into my twenties. Chances are, if mom had survived cancer and was still with us, I’m pretty sure she would have called me on a daily basis to make sure that I was behaving, that me and my family were all healthy and safe and that I was adhering to every rule that she had ever set for me in life.

It’s hard leaving your child with someone else, even with people you trust. But I feel it is essential. I’m sure some of you out there may disagree with me but I actually think its good to occasionally leave your child with a babysitter or a family member if only to allow yourself time to refocus, gather your senses and charge headfirst back into the fray and the chaos that we loving refer to as parenthood.

Why do I believe its important? Well in my case, it forced me to take inventory of the things that my parents taught me and to actually utilize the skills that I learned while under their very structured and watchful eyes when I found myself out on my own. I’m sure I missed my parents, siblings and the comforts and familiarity of home but to be honest, I really don’t remember being really torn about it for too long.

Oh I was homesick for sure; but I truly believe that those times that I spent away from my parents really prepared me to finally leave home for good and be absolutely fine. By the time I was leaving home for week long Boy Scout camps into the wild I was actually comfortable and confident enough that an occasional call home was all I needed to feel okay again when I felt down.

Why do I bring this up? Because I have observed some parents who simply won’t push their kids out of the nest. I know guys who are in their thirties and they still can’t stand to be away from their parents for very long. Some of them are still living at home! So I have to ask the question, because I’m really trying to understand this phenomenon myself – why is it that grown men and women won’t grow up?

In my humble opinion the fault is split evenly among the two parties. There are parents won’t allow their kids to grow up and be independent and there are kids who are content to let their parents raise them their entire life. Am I right or am I just jealous that I don’t have a built in bail out plan with my parents? Am I just angry that I can’t go running back to mommy and daddy when times get rough? Perhaps and yes, there have been times when my parents and my in-laws have helped us out when we are in a bind. But it’s one thing to be in dire need, it’s something totally different (and almost sinister) to completely be unwilling to help yourself.

One of the things my parents would always say when we were growing up is, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Whenever there was an opportunity to teach a life lesson, mom and dad would teach, sometimes gently remind us or flat out tell it like it is. I’m grateful for that because it really put me in the frame of mind that if I didn’t learn how to be independent, work hard or make hard decisions than life was going to be very tough. Those life lessons still remain with me today and I’m teaching them to my sons with the hopes that they might have the same urgency to one day be a mature adult, take on responsibilities and enjoy a life of self-sufficiency and independence.

Life was still tough even with mom and dad’s constant mentoring. But I’m sure glad that they insisted that I learn to stand on my own two feet and have the confidence to be a man. I miss them now that they are gone from this earth but only because I love them so much. But I’m doing okay on my own and I have them and so many wonderful people who taught me great things in life to thank. Teach your kids today to be self-sufficient and trust that they will do the right thing. Otherwise you’re just teaching them to walk a path that will make them a permanent fixture in your home – the path that goes from their bedroom, to the fridge, to the sofa, the bathroom and back to their bedroom.

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