Why do some children grow into adults with the confidence to face the world independently, and others require ongoing dependence on their parents and end up with a limited launch into adulthood? It's a question I ponder because I want my kids to find their own way in life; to separate from Jason and I in order to move smoothly into their own dreams and callings with no lingering guilt placed on them by their parents.
It's quite easy for me to say this now, when my children are 7 and 4, but I want to plant this idea deep in my subconcious, so I truly believe it when the time comes to let them go and watch them spread their wings to fly. Children are not possessions. They do not belong to me, or to anyone. They belong to themselves, and I believe they belong to God, and that he holds them in his hand for safekeeping.
Growing up, my best friend's mom used to say that every parent's job is to take a fully dependent baby, and turn them into a completely independent adult. As a mom, I think about that often. I watch the times where it doesn't work, and the adults are terrified to leave home and face the uncertainties of the world on their own, and usually there is a complicated dance at play between the child and the parent. Each person is playing a role that is dependent on the other, and if one person decides to change, everyone has to change, but usually there is so much fear and pressure involved that no one dares to break the cycle.
Setting up boundaries for your own nuclear family is an important process. It's very hard for most parents to release their grasp and allow their grown children to follow their dreams and make their own families without excess interference. Sometimes hard decisions must be made and communicated, and a new dance ends up being created. Many times the steps take years to learn and master, with many slip-ups back into the old routine, but I believe it's important to soldier on and not give up when times are hard.
We are forming our own identity as a family of four. We are discovering where we fit in our extended families, with our friends, and in our various communities. We are making mistakes and learning from them, and doing some things right, and taking joy in that hard-won independence. We are in the middle of a process, and it's acceptable for us not to have all of the answers. We are trying our best, and shaping our family territory, and in the process, discovering who we are as a family unit.