When Should Parents Begin to Let Go of Their Children?

by Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor and Life Coach
Christian parents are told to give their children "roots and wings" from the time they are born until it is time to leave the nest, some twenty years later. I believe that the first part comes easier than the second, which may not come at all. Let me explain why.

Giving a child 'roots' is about shared traditions, Christian values, personal accountability to a standard of behavior like the ten commandments or the golden rule as well as providing a safe and loving home environment. I believe that most parents do their best to care and provide for their kids and that building these core values into the heart of their child, so that it will come out through their behavior and choices later on in life. If a child knows what they believe they are stronger and more focused to go through the teen years without getting hung up on the distractions that cause so many to fall.

Frankly, I don't think that most parents really struggle with knowing what they should be doing, and for many actually are doing to give kids the strength of being deeply rooted in a personal belief system. If they aren't building these values into the lives of their kids, they are likely supplementing those values through Sunday school, private Christian education or Christian media. Giving kids these kind of traditional family values will root them into knowing what they believe, but it won't protect them when they are challenged as to why they believe it.

How do you take a child that you have loved, cared for, taken care of and protected for their entire lifetime the space to 'fly' forward on their own wings? Let me warn you, it's hard! Yet as hard as it may be for parents to even consider letting go of the children that they have invested so much time and energy into, it is essential for their development and strength as a person who will one day have to move out and tackle the issues in their life.

Here's the problem though. If you never let a child test their wings by moving a little further away from Mom or dad's care, then they can develop the symptoms of a social phobia and end up being afraid of moving forward in life. We love our kids, yet part of that love is to equip them and prepare them to one day leave the nest. When they are well equipped, they soar and when they aren't they crash-it's about that simple. So what to do? Here's some parenting tips to coach you through the process of what you can do at every stage of childhood now to build strong kids now, who will one day go out and build successful lives.

Parenting Stages to build strong kids:

Birth to puberty, (ages 0-12)- Kids need a 'caretaker' who helps with daily tasks and skills while learning to master areas of self-discipline and control.

Puberty to College Years, (12-21)- The teen years are a combination of part counselor and part coach to guide through the emotional issues of building relationships, learning to deal with the difficulties of life and career selection.

College years to Adulthood, (21-30)- We always need our parents and this stage is no different. These years are a great time for the parent/adult-child relationship to prosper since the young adult is out on their own dealing with life, yet still needs a 'consultant' to bounce ideas off of.

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