When our children are born we mark all the milestones. The first words, first steps, potty training, and first day of school. I was so happy when my oldest entered high school, because in 4 short years I would begin the process of “emptying my nest.”
I spent 18 years loving and protecting him. I tried to make life as stress free as possible. I tried to give him everything that I didn’t have. I would wake him up every morning for school and make sure that he had his homework, books, and lunch. If he forgot anything I would drop what I was doing and come to the rescue. The things that my mother said no to, I said yes to him, IF it made sense, because I remember what it was like to hear my mom say no. I remember what I was thinking and feeling when I asked for things or wanted to have certain experiences. I tried to make sure that he was always on the right path. I tried to help him avoid as many pitfalls as possible. As parents, we want our children to learn from our past mistakes. Nothing wrong with that, is there? That’s just being a good mom, right?
Well, I would soon be faced with the results of my actions. What I have since learned is that in a way I somewhat handicapped my son. When I turned him loose onto his college campus he was not prepared to make his own decisions. Because I was ALWAYS there to make things right, because I was ALWAYS there to catch him before he hit the ground, because I was ALWAYS there to fix it, he has no sense of how to make it on his own. He has little motivation to become more independent, and now he is afraid to trust his own decisions. He is scared he will make the wrong decision, and he’s scared of the consequences that might follow. He is afraid to fall.
I was not trying to handicap my son; who would want that?
I don’t want him to depend on me forever. Remember, I’m trying to empty my nest.
What I have decided to do is back up, take my hands off, and let him make decisions. When he calls and ask what should he do my response is, “What do YOU think you should do?” I am, and will always be, there to catch him if he falls. But I have to let him try. As hard as it is, I must step back and let him fly. Otherwise, my nest will never be empty.