Our daughter has safely arrived in Nepal and by all reports, is already having a great time 🙂
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 to say the least. We’ve had people look at us like we are the most irresponsible parents in the world, others who just shake their 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 an ‘unsafe’ life and has never shied away from doing ‘the hard thing’ either. Not that he is reckless or risk-taking 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 our 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.