I was talking to one of our six (help!) kids. Tom, third one in line, has just graduated college. Just broken up with his girlfriend. Unsure what to do next. At first I was full of suggestions. Places to go, people to see. I was about to launch into my “Why don’t you try…?” speech. And then I realized that sometimes the best thing you can do for someone you love is leave them alone.
This doesn’t mean not caring for someone you love. It means backing off and letting them figure things out on their own.
I realized in this stage of my life that the only life I’m an expert on is mine. I’ve spent the past two decades serving as my kids’ coach, fan, guide, booster, disciplinarian, boundary-setter and role model. (For what to do and what not to do.) Now it’s my time to back off and let them make their own decisions. And their own mistakes.
I know I want to help my kids avoid mistakes that I’ve made. I want them to learn from my experiences – but that’s impossible. They have to learn from their own experiences. And I have to sit with my own discomfort of watching them struggle and sometimes stumble. By leaving them alone, I am loving them in the truest sense of the word.