Raising Self-Managed Adults
As parents, it should be our goal to raise children that are emotionally healthy, self-managing adults. Although few parents would disagree with this statement, it is sometimes difficult to make it happen. It has become common these days to see children, who are well into their twenties, re-circulating through their homes of origin. This situation may be due to a number of factors, such as: greater economic challenges, smaller families, out of wedlock pregnancies, or a parent’s fear of letting go. Regardless of what the circumstances may be, as parents, we have a responsibility to help our children orient themselves toward the future and the fulfillment of their potential. I have always been moved by the wonderful poem of Kahlil Gibran regarding the relationship between a parent, child and the future.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
At some point in the parenting experience, we realize that our lives have less to do with tomorrow than our children’s lives do. They are the ones that the future seeks to fulfill its destiny. Our wonderful position as parents is almost entirely centered on the successful release of our offspring into the world. We should be excited about their journey and encourage them to discover who they are and what they love. Unfortunately, some parents only have warnings and words of caution for their kids, “Safe going nowhere” as my mother used to say. They saturate their children with what they shouldn’t do to be successful in life, never understanding that humans should not ultimately define themselves by what they don’t believe in, but by what they do believe in and act upon. As parents, we should not turn our fears into our children’s goals; this will only rob them of their tomorrow.
As parents, we should look forward to our children’s future and this anticipation should be expressed to our children through our hope and optimism for life. It is easy to focus on the negative aspects of the future and transmit those feelings to our kids through warnings and caution signs. Seek out settings for your children that will allow them the opportunity to choose and be rewarded by those choices. Help them learn how to value their failings as much as their successes and allow them the right to be the owner of those experiences as well as the proprietor of their own lives.