Once upon a time I was the parent of a kindergarten student and her school days stretched before us like a never-ending road full of excitement, learning and laughter.
Then all-too-quickly I was the parent of a third-grader, still learning, still laughing, and still lots of time to do everything we wanted to do. In what felt like about six months, I was the parent of a seventh-grader and I began to feel the pressure of time running out. And then I was the parent of a high school senior, and my days with her were numbered. In a very short while this child would move out of our home and reside in some dorm, some apartment, and eventually, a home of her own.
This happens to all of us–we raise children to become independent, to make their own way, and to determine their own choices. That is as it should be. My daddy used to say that “the parent-child relationship is the only love relationship that grows toward separation – not toward togetherness.” He was right. We encourage their strength and independence, their wisdom in making their own choices, and their eventual establishment of their own families.
But while they are still in the last sweet days of their youth, parents should take every opportunity to be as involved as possible in the lives of the young adults who are racing toward that independence. It is not our job to hold them back. But it is our job to support and encourage them in their daily work and classes and activities.
It is our job to care for and care about the people they choose as friends and confidants. It is our job to guide them toward healthy choices in their recreation and leisure-time activities. It is our job to be present…in mind and body and heart and spirit…in every aspect of the teenage lives they are living. It is our job. But it is also our privilege.
Take every opportunity to be a part of your child’s daily life, in whatever path your find open and available. Choose to become an active part of your child’s school, his friendships, his studies. Choose to be there for the games, the plays, the projects, the recitals. Choose to be an involved participant in that young, emerging life that needs you now, more than ever. It will be important to your child. It will be important to you.