When our children grow up, do we fall into a crisis or is it an opportunity for regenerated relationships? This is the recurring question for people who see their children come of age.
We have two daughters, aged 25 and 23, who left home quite young. We had to speed up the journey and ask ourselves this question quickly. The temptation to let go and end up in a bad existential crisis is just around the corner. It is better to reflect and address the issue.
Growing up with children in adolescence
From the very first months of a child’s life, we realize that it is necessary in some way to “grow up” alongside them. And so we learn to eat again, to walk, to relate to the world. To sustain hours and hours of building with bricks, or dressing dolls, it is vital that we learn to play and have fun with them again. It is a matter of survival.
At a certain point, children grow up and enter the tunnel of the infamous adolescence: a difficult period for children, but also for parents. This is why our patience must be stretched to the limit. But it is also an opportune time to review one’s values and rewrite the list of priorities.
It is important not to take it personally when the first insults come. As parents, we should never shut ourselves off, or close the shutter of our feelings to defend ourselves. The growing child always brings with them a certain amount of pain. It may help to think of a rose, which has to have many thorns to be long and beautiful. Or we can focus on a bow that is stretched to let the arrow fly strong and steady.
Teenage children ask us to be real, genuine. They cannot afford for us to be anything other than that. They constantly invite us to confrontation, from which they will learn conflict management. Adolescence is also a time to re-establish their own inner balance, which will be reflected in them with the balance of motivated “yes” and “no”.
Children growing up: is it a crisis or an opportunity? The moment they leave home
Once the storms of adolescence have passed, when we think we are finally safe, the fateful moment of leaving home with all the suitcases arrives. For us, it came very early: Anna Chiara left at 15 for Canada and Marianna at 16 for Great Britain. But I think that age doesn’t really matter, and I firmly believe that it is important to be prepared no matter what.
When the child leaves home it is a real trauma. We know it’s the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to soothe the nausea, the sense of emptiness. So preparation is the only thing to do. It also helps to train ourselves to look at events from another perspective, from the perspective of our children. Let us focus on their thrill, their emotions and leave our self-pity in a drawer. We can use the image of the eagle that accompanies the eaglets in flight the first few times, and then watches them fly alone until they leave.
In each family there are different characteristics for maintaining contact. We have chosen to leave their rooms intact, so that they have a haven to return to from time to time, without feeling like guests, but at home.
What if the kids stay?
In today’s society, it is increasingly common for children to stay at home for long periods of time. This is due to the economic crisis and the difficulty in becoming independent. Sometimes it is also difficult for parents to let their children go.
If children stay at home even as adults, the rules need to be revised, new boundaries established. Tasks have to be redistributed so that no one is crushed with a massive workload.
Speaking frankly and practicing kindness will help the situation.
Children growing up: is it a crisis or an opportunity? The chance to build regenerated relationships.
Children growing up: is it a crisis or an opportunity? Having overcome the crisis, or avoided it with good preparation, we choose the occasion. The growth and maturity of our children give us the opportunity to build a different relationship. We can reinvent ourselves and re-purpose ourselves in a relationship that is finally equal, in which the past and the many shared experiences will make it truly special.
A child leaving, sooner or later, is an opportunity to invent a new daily routine, perhaps apparently emptier, but with room to strengthen the relationship as a couple or with yourself.
There is nothing more beautiful than seeing our children grown up, free and mature, and finding their smile of a life spent for each other. So it is worth the effort of growing together, of constantly questioning ourselves, of becoming resilient.