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Mom's Time Out

Leaving the nest

Michele Brown

(7/2017) Someday the baby bird will leave the nest. Sometimes you just have to let them fail. You need to let go and let them fall. These are all things I have heard repeatedly lately. I just happen to be struggling with the idea. These statements arenít always as cut and dry as they seem. I know that this is a fact of life but sometimes I have to consider the source from which it comes, or the circumstances surrounding the event.

A prime example of this was when a school secretary told me, "You need to let them fail sometimes." My son had rushed to help someone carry something heavy in the door and had inadvertently left his book bag in my car. When I realized I brought his book bag to school and dropped it off (this is when I got the comment). There have been many times when my children have left a book, assignment, or planner at home and I have not brought it to them. This was, of course, followed up with a responsibility lecture that evening when they returned home. In this case, however, I felt he had done a good deed and was going to be at school without a pencil or paper as his bare minimum. In this case I decided being supportive outweighed teaching a lesson. I also love when the "let them fail" suggestion comes from the parent of an over achiever. They have no idea how hard it is to watch a child fail at something because they arenít motivated, donít understand, or canít comprehend the ramifications to their future.

I am definitely regretting not having let my children work more things out on their own. I have two high school boys right now and they both struggle with different issues. I have one who does his work (not to the best of his ability) and then leaves it in his book bag instead of turning it in. I have another who seems to have hovered under the radar until his senior year. He does enough to get a high B average but not too much. He canít seem to get his priorities straight for graduation this June or college next fall. I can only assume if I had forced them to be more responsible in middle and high school then we wouldnít be having as many of these struggles. On the other hand I have many parents tell me they are "just boys" and that is simply how it is. The quandary now is how you let them fail without messing up their future. If their GPA drops that directly affects their chances for college admissions and scholarships. I am still amazed how much one bad (even average) grade can affect a childís future. This seems like a crazy amount of stress to put on a child, assuming they understand the magnitude of the situation.

On the other hand there are many steps to maturing that I believe my husband and I have gotten better at "letting go of" with each child. After all, the first is truly stuck in the role of guinea pig. I canít tell you how many times my husband or I have made the comment, "We will do that differently with the next (rest), now that we know better". We have been diligently teaching all of the kids how to do laundry, dishes and clean (especially bathrooms). We also require the oldest two children to set their alarms and get themselves up and ready for school on their own. Truth be told our oldest is the worst at this. Recently, we have found ourselves needing to wake him and struggling with whether or not we should not wake him and let him be late for school. (On a side note senioritis stinks).

In order to make an effort in the maturing and responsibility home front we have also started to become much stricter about how our children plan getting togethers and appointments. If they want to go hang out with friends or have friends over to the house we have certain guidelines that must be followed. They must have gathered the important information before they come to us to ask permission. This information includes who, where, when and how. If they canít supply this information they need not bother to even ask. Although this has been a fairly recent change (the past year or so) it has also been a successful one. The kids now come to me to ask, "Can Susie come over on Friday night at 7 and stay overnight until 10. Her mom will drop her off and pick her up." They are starting to understand that keeping track of our 6 schedules and 3 grandparentís schedules can be a bit confusing, especially when we have too many variables.

Donít misunderstand; there have been plenty of missed opportunities to teach my children to be more responsible and to let them fail to learn a lesson. I believe this is why God intended for a child to have a mother and a father. My husband is way better at teaching the hard lessons and I am way better at nurturing. Unfortunately, it isnít always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes the best thing for the childís future is to let them flounder, but the best thing for the child in the here and now is a huge hug. The struggle is in finding a balance.

The best advice I could give toward that end result is to start early and get a jump start. Give your child chores at a young age (age appropriate of course), teach them to do the laundry and dishes as young as they are ready. Let them learn what it is to fail at something and to be treated unfairly when they are in elementary and middle school (all with parameters that you can control) before it affects their future. Above all love them through all of these trials and tribulations.

Read other articles by Michele Brown