Are They Ready To Go?

After having our children home for a reunion I was amazed to see how easy it was for them to revert back into their childhood roles and pecking order even though some are responsible adults with children of their own.  This reverting back pertains to us mothers as well. Once you have mothered it is hard to stop, though fulfilling the role of grandmother eases the emptiness of not mothering your own children.  The best part of being a grandmother is watching the full circle of development…your children now become the parents of their own children and you sit back, watching how your parental training is being implemented by the next generation.

While pondering their visit, ironically on my Internet popped up a list of childhood events outlining signs of developmental milestones regarding a child’s readiness to leave home.  I was curious to read someone else’s viewpoint on this topic since I’ve been through this process a few times now.  The events listed were very “text book” if I can use that expression. 1) Your child is able to leave your side for minutes at a time to play alone. 2) They play at a friend’s home without you. 3) They can walk, ride a bike or take a bus to school. 4) They develop the ability to stay home alone.  You can see where this is going!  All events listed above display either a physical or basic emotional growth of a child. I couldn’t help think that these events just happen as a natural growth process without any thought or training. It is the behaviors we teach and characteristics developed that will help children, not only be ready to go off on their own, but to be confident in their ability to leave home and to give back to society in a positive manner.

When do you really know that a child is ready to leave?  What do they need to learn before that time comes?  These are age-old questions I’m sure since each child is so different.   Our teachings should go further than the textbook development.  For every person reading this article they could provide as many different perspectives as to when we know a child is ready to leave home and with what attributes.  In my own experience I can personally suggest four attributes to be the most important in demonstrating when a child is ready to leave home.

1. The ability to forgive others.

2. The ability to show kindness.

3. The ability to forgive self.

4. A willingness to serve those whom they associate with.

As you look at these four characteristics you can see that they demonstrate maturing from childhood to adulthood. It contrasts the development of a toddler in diapers with self-indulgent behavior like taking back their toy to a young man standing in a suit and tie ready to serve with thoughts and actions of giving himself and expressing his concern for others.  These traits are not developed overnight, and everyone on the road to maturity can relapse to self-absorbed behavior.  Thinking back on lessons taught these concepts are reinforced over and over again demonstrating to me that we are all children who are being taught how to leave home successfully.

Shortly after one of our children left for college he called complaining of homesickness and expressed his desire to leave school and return home.  With my mother’s heart I loved to hear those words but wisdom told me that this would be the worst thing.  I reminded him how excited he had been to go off on his own and to be away. I also reminded him of some of the contention that had taken place right before he left reinforcing his need to be on his own which develops the next stage of independence. I then suggested, “It is better to be homesick and away… than sick of home with no where to go.” Daily phone calls and emails helped the situation…or maybe it was just the thought of the alternative…being at home.  Having a choice always makes the situation better. Our children’s independence will come easier for them, with our ability to let them go

Read about the author, Bev Nelson over HERE...