Today, I'm honored to feature a guest post written by a friend. I'm not naming her or linking to her blog, for reasons that will soon be made clear. Because she works in college admissions, she offers a cautionary tale for those of us who want to avoid staying too involved in our kids' lives long past the point when they should be ready to launch. Although my kids are years from college, I took this as a reminder to evaluate what I'm doing now to encourage independence and confidence in my children. And to be honest, I need to up the ante when it comes to my older kids. This summer, I'm teaching Natalie to do the laundry, and Connor is going to take over vacuuming. And I might just let them run with scissors. Maybe.
|photo credit: Hugh Kretschmer for TIME|
The one who calls too often, hovers too close, holds too tight.
We all want to be the one who trusts God for every daily thing: for safety and protection, for clarity, for guidance. But we also want to hold on because we hear tell that these days slip like sand.
I’m not a mom yet, but I am a college admissions counselor. I’ve interacted with many of those moms.
The moms who answer emails I send to their child. The moms who fill out their child’s college application (“because she won’t do it if I don’t”). The moms who send me emails, then call, then leave voicemails checking to see if I’ve received their emails…on a Sunday.
The moms who call because they heard about some sick kids on campus and if it’s meningitis, their son isn’t vaccinated. The moms who call because their daughter isn’t picking up her phone and would I go find her in the dorm and make sure she’s okay? The moms who still sit beside their 20-year-old to help him through his homework. The moms who call because their child needs to be on time to the dentist, or the airport, or the chiropractor.
From my vantage point, I get it. You want your child’s application to be flawless so they get accepted. Once they’re here, you want them to be responsible and safe. Any mother would want that for their child.
What comes across to other adults, however, is the message that you are not done raising your child. You may have raised your child to be trustworthy, but in your hovering, you refuse to trust them.
Watching a child wilt under that mom is the most discouraging thing I see.
Because what comes across to the child of that mom is this message: I am not ready for you to grow up. I do not want you to grow up. That wordless guilt burdens these children in college and will one day hinder the relationship they forge with their mothers as grown adults.
Don’t become that mom. Be the one who trusts God instead of controlling the little details (and in the grand scheme, a college application is a little detail). Be the one whose child is confident in their own ability to try on adulthood.
Trust that you have done a good job. By the time your child is 18, you have passed along the essentials, whether you know it or not. They’ll figure out the rest.
Stand back and let your child make a wrong decision. It may be painful to you—and to them—but adulthood isn’t about being shielded.
And for heaven’s sake, stop calling me, worried about your child. They are flourishing marvelously here at college, rooted deeply in the foundation you have laid and discovering all the joys and challenges of that transition to adulthood. They are turning out just great.
You did good, Mom.