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The Benefits of Letting Go

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Do you feel like taking a step back from your child’s life is easier said than done? It may be time to learn how to let your children go without damaging your nerves – or theirs!

It seems like only yesterday that your children were running around the house with chocolate smeared all over their faces, leaving a trail of deadly Lego blocks in their wake. But young Brenda is not so little anymore. To your horror, she wants to take a course named Politicizing Beyonce. You think this is just code for listening to the Lemonade album with a whole lot of other fans from something they’ve named The Hive, and calling it gender studies. So you decide to send her a very long voice note (the modern day “sternly worded letter”) demanding that she change to a sensible subject like Economics, pronto. [/vc_column_text][vc_tta_accordion active_section=”0″ collapsible_all=”true”][vc_tta_section title=”The Attachment Issue” tab_id=”1488553287128-7b3cfcc7-8531″][vc_column_text]Is this one of the many decisions your child makes that you over-analyse and try to change? Are you, in other words, too involved in your child’s decision making?

Here are three easy ways to spot if you are guilty of overparenting, courtesy of Madeline Levine, psychologist and author of The Price of Privilege: (link)

  1. Doing for your kids what they can already do for themselves;
  2. Doing for your kids what they can almost do for themselves; and
  3. When your parenting behaviour is motivated by your own ego.

Julie Lythcott-Haims elaborates on the above:

Levine said that when we parent this way we deprive our kids of the opportunity to be creative, to problem solve, to develop coping skills, to build resilience, to figure out what makes them happy, to figure out who they are. In short, it deprives them of the chance to be, well, human. Although we overinvolve ourselves to protect our kids and it may in fact lead to short-term gains, our behaviour actually delivers the rather soul-crushing news: Kid, you can’t actually do any of this without me.

The tricky part about parenting is the balance. You never thought there would be anything worse than the time she was into sneaking out of the house for a late night movie with an older guy, but lo and behold, you’ve now discovered at least a thousand more things that are infinitely worse![/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion][vc_column_text]

Some of the areas in which parents find it hard to let go, are:

[/vc_column_text][cs_iconbox icon_size=”lg” title=”Money” icon=”fa-money” icon_color=”#278c39″ title_color=”#141a46″]Children always seem to need more of it, but when you monitor every financial move that they make as they grow up, they will be reckless with money when they begin handling it themselves as teenagers or varsity students. Teaching children (from a young age) to budget and handle their own finances – no matter how disastrous the consequences – sets them up for a healthy perspective and approach to finances later on in life.

[/cs_iconbox][cs_iconbox icon_size=”lg” title=”Relationships ” icon=”im-people” icon_color=”#287ec9″ title_color=”#141a46″]You can’t control the company your children will choose once they get to university – and you shouldn’t try to. Trust that you have taught them enough about good and bad characters for them to be able to choose which company they prefer. Some lessons, tough as it is to watch, are best learnt the hard way. As long as their safety is not at risk, let them choose how and with whom they choose to spend their time.

[/cs_iconbox][cs_iconbox icon_size=”lg” title=”Education and Career” icon=”im-pencil2″ icon_color=”#d84843″ title_color=”#141a46″]I saw a quote on facebook the other day that read, “Do not resent your parents for not encouraging you to follow your dreams – they grew up in a world where dreams didn’t come true.” This is an especially painful truth for the majority of South Africans who grew up during apartheid – there was no opportunity for them to follow their true heart’s desire. Fortunately, you as a parent can let your child choose their own path, and you don’t have to live vicariously through them. It is their time now – don’t try to make up for the past by pushing your desires onto them!

If you have identified traces of yourself in some of the problematic behaviours we have discussed – fear not! There is yet hope for your nerves.

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The Benefit of Beyonce

If nothing else, take from Beyonce that when life throws you lemons – make a Grammy award winning album. Okay, let’s try that again. When life throws you lemons, break the internet with photos of your pregnancy shoot. No? Okay. Last time.

When life throws you lemons – e.g. your children outgrow your tight reins – remember this:[/vc_column_text][vc_tta_accordion active_section=”0″ collapsible_all=”true”][vc_tta_section title=”They will never grow until they learn to fail.” tab_id=”1488558469871-a167c73b-6136″][vc_column_text]Failure is really not the worst thing that can happen to them. In a rapidly changing world, our generation of millenials will make mistakes, even if they’re seemingly perfect. Technology and innovation is developing so fast that most people will be faced with a completely new situation at some point or another, more than once in their lives. If you interfere with their decision making, your children will not acquire the necessary, “Get up and try better this time” attitude that is necessary for risk-takers, innovators and trailblazers to adopt.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Letting go is hard to do – do it anyway.” tab_id=”1488558469960-c00c7eea-e1e0″][vc_column_text]Look at it this way – no one really wants their forty-year old daughter to still be living in her childhood bedroom. How will you get grandkids?![/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Your children have time.” tab_id=”1488558575730-b610ae1f-7a27″][vc_column_text]And so do you! Don’t transfer the pressure of “getting it right” in a certain amount of time, onto them. Societal pressures are heavy enough already, they don’t need to feel that kind of unfair pressure to be perfect from their family too. Let them walk their journey at their own pace, and while they do, focus on the new joys of your own path in this season.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Children making decisions on their own is a sign that you’ve done well ” tab_id=”1488558613753-4ce2c93c-558b”][vc_column_text]You’ve raised them to be healthy, independent adults.  There is no shame in having raised young adults who are capable of problem-solving and carrying out tasks. This is good! Continue to trust them as they navigate through life. As they grow older, your advice will become increasingly invaluable to them – they will call you up for everything from how long to boil an egg to whether or not they should do their masters while working full-time. So trust that that time will come, and when it does, your input will be appreciated.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion][vc_column_text]Here’s the good(er) news – they will always be your children. Nothing can change that fact. You are not competing with the world to be their parents. Rather, if you hover over them, you run the risk of not only stunting their growth and wellbeing, but of alienating them from you altogether. Don’t be that guy. Be the guy who, like Beyonce, is content to know that their children are evidence that you were here, you lived, and you loved.

EduConnect 2Cents

One way to get your children to understand where you are coming from is to explain a little about some of the choices you have made. This will help them understand that you are giving advice from love and not a desire to control. They will appreciate knowing that you are not perfect either – it will put them at ease. Remember, your children love and adore you – they look up to you![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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