When the Mamma Mia! Broadway show debuted and the movie became a blockbuster hit, most mothers knew if they needed a cry they could count on Abba’s “Slipping Through My Fingers” to help get the tears flowing. If you aren’t familiar with the tune just take a moment to go read the lyrics or watch a Youtube video. I’ll wait here for ya…
The song forces you to realize the moments you have with your children are fleeting and in the blink of an eye those babies who nestled in your arms will be stepping on a school bus. Those toddlers giving you fits as they throw their own will become actual grown up people who can use their words instead of their flailing limbs!
While the song may be a tearjerker, it is a good reminder that I’m ultimately raising my children to leave me. I don’t mean that in a flippant “Woo-hoo they’re out of my hair!” way, but in a way that helps give me perseverance on the days I feel like caving in and letting them rule the roost until our home resembles a Lord of the Flies scenario. The song reminds me it’s a beautiful honor to guide them as they blossom, grow, and become real adults with feelings and opinions who can hopefully leave the nest to pursue their own dreams and goals in life. What a tremendous blessing to be a part of that…even on the hard days!
Because I’m raising my children to leave me, I am going to discipline them.
The methods may look different because of my children’s different personalities, but that means I have to actually get to KNOW them and what makes them tick so I can help their brains make good choices in the future. Discipline can be draining and exhausting, but hang out with some kids (or adults!) who’ve never had any and you’ll realize real quick it’s worth it even when it’s hard!
Because I’m raising my children to leave me, I am going to teach them relationship skills.
Sometimes they will have to work out their quarrels with friends, but sometimes I might lovingly provide some tips of navigating the world of social skills. Teaching them about healthy relationships means manners, it means boundaries, it means healing from heartbreaks, it means advocating for yourself, it means BIG feelings and hard discussions at times, but if our relationships with others aren’t one of the biggest influences and blessings in our life then I don’t know what is!
Because I am raising my children to leave me, I have to let them fail.
I can’t always be swooping in and rescuing them. I can’t helicopter all their choices and I will have to force myself to step back and watch them fail a few times so that they can learn from their mistakes. Hopefully I will have the grace and knowledge to know when to step in and help them, but I can’t do it all for them. By learning from their past mistakes, they can learn to overcome adversity and challenges in the real world someday.
Because I am raising my children to leave me, I will let them express their opinions in healthy ways.
In the early years this may mean choosing outfits or hairstyles, but in the later years (okay yeah it will still mean choosing outfits and hairstyles) it may mean choosing classes, colleges, and who to date. I’m not raising miniature versions of myself that I’m trying to live vicariously through. No they may not want to do ballet, they may prefer to read. They may not like to play dress up but prefer to dig in mud and climb trees. Knowing when and how to let them express themselves can be a tricky thing as a parent, but it’s helping mold them into becoming independent individuals with their own thoughts and ideas. I have to loosen the reigns sometimes when I want to hold them tight.
Now just because I’m raising them to leave me does not mean my arms won’t always be open when they need to come back. I hope part of them always feel comforted their mother’s embrace and presence. Tough times can arise in life and I hope my home will always be a haven for my daughters. I hope they will be strong, happy, healthy, adults who do get to fulfill their goals and dreams in life and I pray that for them daily. And I pray for myself, as a mother, to have the strength and courage to help them become the adults I feel they can be, even if it hurts my heart a little to watch them leave the nest!