“When parents talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.”
– Erma Bombeck
I’ve always sensed that I’m overprotective of my son. He’s very compassionate, kind, and uncommonly sensitive to what others are feeling. Because of the latter trait, I’ve unconsciously protected him from some of the conflict, anxiety, and confrontations that he might otherwise be exposed to, all the while feeling that I was doing something good for him; helping him to feel that life was primarily happy and that The Cup Of Life is Half Full.
What I learned earlier this week was that shielding him from life’s difficulties was not helping him. He experienced my protectiveness as a subliminal message that I felt he wasn’t up to the task of dealing with life. He told me, sweetly and with the desire not to hurt my feelings (that’s just like him, by the way), that my overprotectiveness actually made him feel that I didn’t have faith in him – that he couldn’t handle difficulties on his own. In his words, “Mom, I’m not a puppy anymore.” I thought this was a perfect way to tell me I need to back off and let him learn to handle life’s challenges like a man (or a Big Dog, as the case may be).
I really appreciated his candid comments, because honestly, it’s gone a long way towards helping me let him move from childhood into a strong, capable young man.
This whole parenting of teens thing is truly a day-by-day process. I’m a better parent today than I was yesterday thanks to my son being honest with me. When the student is ready, the teacher appears (talk about role reversal!)
However – I am STILL The Mother and I WILL take hugs – by force if necessary.