I was driving down the highway toward Tennessee with Estie (now 22). She was talking about styles of parenting and how Karen and I have conveyed a sense of responsibility to her and to her siblings.
“You guys used a phased approach to launching. You gave us doses of independence in stages. You encouraged us to save money. At 13 you made me buy my own clothes. You sent us on mission trips. You helped us to feel competent by giving us miniature experiences prior to launching us.”
“So all that prepared you to be more independent?”
“Yes, it not only gave me the chance to not be shocked at leaving home when it was time to go off to school, it also prepared your hearts as parents to release us.”
“How does that compare with your friends?”
“Well, one friend of mine has to call home to process every decision she makes. Another friend’s mom calls her up every day just to talk. That shows how much control the daughter has over the mom. They’re typical of my generation. Parents are way too obsessed with their kids.”
“How else do you see that?”
“So many parents I’m around talk about their kids’ grades or accomplishments way too much. And they do it in front of them. It’s not healthy. It gives the kids an inflated sense of their own importance.”
“But don’t you want to encourage your kids?”
“Yeah, but you would give us feedback one-on-one, for example, not in front of people. You didn’t stifle our talent and you validated us. We put on little shows for guests. But you didn’t let our egos to get too big. Mom knows us really well. She knows what makes us tick, what discourages us, and what to do when we’re down.”
* * * * * *
Kids get to be adults and then parents before you know it. We worked hard to make sure Estie and her siblings could stand on their own two feet. It’s great to know that the work has paid off. No remedial parenting required.