Embracing Authentic Children

It has been said that childhood is a series of letting go.  We should be able to trust in the process and see most young people  really becoming able to care for themselves, their surroundings, articulate their goals and launch themselves into that celebration of independence and authenticity to themselves around the end of  the high school years if not before. However, in order for that to actually happen, we need to impart our knowledge and wisdom to our children, embrace them for who they are and what path they are on (freedom of authenticity), let them make mistakes, be there to support and guide – but also get out of their way.  You have lived your life.  Now let them live theirs.

This may seem such a strange notion.  After all, no one loves the idea of personal responsibility and independence than North Americans.  We have built an entire culture around this idea of independence, and often I feel in our society push tiny children to become independent in hopes of reaching this functional adulthood sometime in the high school or  college -aged years.  Why would we need thoughts on letting our children make their own mistakes and handling that?   Why wouldn’t everyone want their children to be their authentic selves and respect this in their child?

This seems so common sense, and yet, I see more and more parents having trouble letting go.  They are tracking their children all over their college campuses with apps.  They are stepping in and helping their child clean up mistakes that are no way the parent’s to hold.  They say they respect their authentic child’s dreams, the different from them individuality of their child – except when it doesn’t coincide with the dreams they held for their child.

I think we often forget several things along the way:

Our life and our ideas of what constitutes a satisfactory life are not their life and ideas.

Sometimes in order to find ourselves, we had to leave our family for a little bit.  Again, maybe this a completely Western idea, but I often think of myself. I would have been a totally different person if I hadn’t left my home state and had the life experiences I have had. For some people, maybe it’s about not pursuing the family business or marrying who our family thought we should marry or whatever the situation is.  Often it takes a little time being away from the family in order to find oneself as an individual without the family impression of who we are being our only self-picture.

And we often forget sort of the opposite thing in a rush to actualize the real and authentic self as a young person:  that we need others and that what we do has a ripple effect through us, our family and friends, our community.  We are all connected, and family is often (not always) a connection.

I think part of learning how to do this begins right in education and in parenting – showing our children over and over how important the details are but how we also need to be able to see the big picture and the connections that span across people, communities, fields of study.  In the end, we need to impart wisdom, let go, let our children find their very authentic selves, and feel safe in their identity.

Children, teens, and young adults need acceptance and  a safe harbor to paddle back to.  But the reality is, if we are paving a gentle path for them, if we are not letting them go, if we persist in putting them in the same category they were when they were 12 and now they are 24, we are doing them a disservice.  Embrace the beauty of your authentic, growing, changing, beautiful child growing up and living their own functional life.  It’s their turn.

Blessings and love,

4 thoughts on “Embracing Authentic Children

  1. I think we’re all so afraid of losing our child to this big, dangerous, terrifying world that we tend to hold on too tightly. We hover over them, ready to swoop in and catch them if they fall. We do everything we can to soften the blow because the idea of them suffering hurts us and the fear of losing them is devestating to us. For many of us, our own identifies are wrapped up in parenthood. Who am I without my children? I absolutely agree with you that it’s necessary to to step back and allow them to popgrow! It’s so hard but it can also be so rewarding. We can take pride in their accomplishments as we watch them achieve their own goals. We just have to be willing to take that with the pain of watching them fail as well. We have to remind them, and ourselves, that wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from failure and just be there ready for them to come to us if they need us. I just pray, as my children grow, that they’ll choose to share their lives with me.

  2. Hi your blog has been my go-to parenting resource for the past decade, even though I do not homeschool or send to Waldorf. When are you going to publish a book?
    I wanted to ask if you could do a post about family life for the working parent. I am blessed with what many would consider a large family. I am also in a difficult situation where right now my income is the primary income. I need some help with being intentional about maximizing the time that I do spend with my kids (I work on a school schedule, which has a lot of advantages), especially since when I get home lots of chores are calling, and all I want is some me time and sleep. Also, burnout is a real issue at certain times of the year, since I am coming home to my family after a day of working with other people’s kids.
    Thanks in advance!

    • HI Busy Mommy! I would love to write a post on that. I have worked outside the home with children and am getting ready to do it again. I totally understand what you are talking about! I am so glad you are here reading. ❤ Carrie

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