“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold.” William Wordsworth
It’s a difficult balance to provide both freedom and boundaries for our children. However, since we want them to blossom and grow, these are necessary gifts we give them.
Today, I leave my second child in a different country to start university. I know down deep that she won’t really be home again. Yes, she’ll come for visits, but my main work in her life is complete. Now, I will watch as she grows and flourishes. My job of pruning is over, and I could not be more happy for her.
Here are three ways I’ve learned to help my children grow over the years:
Establish a home where children have freedom. Teaching our children is necessary. So many parents leave it to teachers to do much of the job they should be doing themselves. Giving freedom to our children is an important part of teaching. Before freeing our children, though, we give models, let them try, and help them refine their gifts. We allow them space to grow in a safe place where they feel loved and accepted.
Make boundaries clear and grow along with the children. Giving freedom to children also requires some boundaries. I’ve seen households where children rule and parents feel they are doing right by allowing the children to run the house. Boundaries, however, are extremely important. Very creative people will emphasize how a boundary can spur even more creativity than total freedom provides. If you don’t believe me, watch reality TV where very creative people are given a few limitations either in resource or in space. The creations become amazing with just a few guidelines, and all competitors understand when someone has crossed a line inappropriately. The same is true with our dear children. Expectations delivered appropriately actually give children freedom. Don’t be afraid to set the boundaries and then to grow as a person. Boundaries should change as children become more responsible, and it takes growth on our parts to know how and when those changes should take place.
Practice what you preach. Not too long ago, I realized that I was expecting from my children more than I was willing to accomplish myself. It was a great reflection and wake up call. Not only did I want them to be “perfect,” but I wanted them to reach lofty heights that were not at all practical. Thankfully, I realized this and stopped to take a fresh look at my own life. How am I showing my own children that I’m willing to keep growing and learning? Am I still creating or am I just sitting back and enjoying creations of the past? Quickly, I realized that these are great questions to continually ask myself.
Providing freedom means to let our children become who they are supposed to be without adding all of our impractical expectations to their load. These expectations become a burden that adds weight and might even hold them back from becoming who they are supposed to become. Needless to say, I’m learning to let go.
As I fly today, I do have a sense of comfort. I am pleased with the choices my daughter has made so far, and I am confident that she will speak her mind, use her gifts, and grow into the young lady God created from her conception.