Updated: Oct 15, 2021
The two worst words put together in any language and my worst fear if I’m honest.
And do we try to save our children from the dreaded ‘if only’s of their life?
These past couple of weeks have been another right of passage- getting our, now no longer young, children off to college and university. And as parental duty calls at these time, comes all the imparting of wisdom only acquired through life experiences and living through decisions both good and bad.
Our protective, parental instincts scream at us to protect them at all cost; to save them from the pain of regret, to give them a seemingly smooth path ahead, dodging all the proverbial onslaughts that life throws at us.
And it’s not that I look to save them from the knowledge that comes with decisions. What absolutely slices me to the core is being on the outside looking in on their journey, knowing what they are capable of and their potential- the very thing they are shaky on and oh so vulnerable to ‘the easy way out’.
How do you say to them, “in 15 years you’ll be wishing you did X”, without sounding like you’re playing dictator to their future? And it’s not about letting them make the small mistakes that make them go ‘I won’t be doing that again,’ but surely will as inevitably happens with the turning of drinking age. But the decisions that impact career and their macro life journey.
How do you tell them that they should try anything and everything thrown at them without sounding over bearing and at the same time wanting to wrap them
in cotton wool to shield them from themselves.
‘Do this and that but not like this, nor like that’ you hear yourself say. And how do you body check your own ego and desires to see your own regrets or lost chances vindicated?
It’s probably the single, most difficult thing to do as a parent, knowing what we believe we know, yet not able to use it and feeling every step of the fall with them when they fail.
My friend Stu was over the other day and gave us a suitable pearl of wisdom: ‘give them wings to fly and a safe place to land.‘
Along with being a Stu fan, I am a huge
P!nk fan as her lyrics always seem to carry the words for what I’m feeling at that moment:
“And I can't teach you how to fly
But I can show you how to live like your life is on the line.
That’s all I know so far.”