DR. CELESTE CATANIA-OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
One of the most nerve-racking yet beautiful experiences in life is watching your children grow into their own person. As concerned parents, you want to protect your children in any way that you can. The older your children become, the more they want to do on their own; whether it be camping, going to the mall, or going to see a movie with their friends.
Do you remember growing up and thinking, “I wish my mom would let me . . .” or “I wish my dad would not . . .” The issue is simply that parents don’t have this remarkable handbook which includes the steps on how to be the perfect parent. Essentially, parents try to relay and teach their children what feels natural or normal. Sometimes your upbringing and the life lessons you have learned along the way may not resonate with your children, leaving you completely dumbfounded and lost. In the end, children and adolescents want several key experiences.
Children and adolescents yearn for independence. How many times have you heard them say, “I want to do it by myself” over the years? A positive spin is knowing that your child is willing to try things on his/her own. Children will make their own mistakes but that is part of life. Take parenting in stride. As your child continues to learn so will you as a parent. Always be proud knowing that you are doing the best you can.
From jumping into puddles to having their first kiss, children and adolescents want to explore the world on their own. At times, your child may appear stubborn or even persistent, but remind yourselves that your child is fighting to have his/her own life experiences. Remember to be present and available to listen to your children but most importantly, to continuously view the world with child-like wonder as your children do. You will be amazed at what you’ll see.
Freedom to Learn:
It may seem at times as if your child/adolescent is more willing to take advice from others than from you. As much as this may hurt, don’t stress this process. It is completely normal for children/adolescents to venture out on their own as they are simply being curious. Curiosity implies learning so that is a positive quality. The key is to have them learn from positive influences such as teachers, coaches, family, and friends. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes it may not be the worst idea to accept the extra help.
As parents, we try to be and do better than our parents until we realize that our parents were doing the best they knew how to do. In fact, eventually, many of us hope to be half the parent as our own mother or father. Remind yourselves that your children have not had this epiphany as of yet. At times they will resent you. Other times they may argue with you as well. Still, no matter what, always show and allow your child to feel that he/she is loved. Feeling loved is a memory that your children will forever cherish, and for that reason, your little bird will certainly wish to fly back home.