It's never easy for a parent to come to terms with the fact that children grow up. Even though you raised your child to be confident and independent so they could thrive as an adult, it still tears at your heartstrings when it's time to let go.
But how do you know when the “right” time comes?
The answer is different for every child. As a child grows, they go through different phases of maturity. It's important to recognize when your child moves from phase to phase and embrace the changes that come with that movement. In doing so, you help both yourself and your child prepare for that inevitable day.
These changes in behaviour are typical of almost any child moving into maturity and independence:
1. They share more with friends than with you. When your child was younger, you may have noticed that they came to you with every concern and issue. However, as kids grow up, they start to display more independence, especially when it comes to decision making. If you find you're having less of those parent-to-child chats:
- Your child may feel their issues are too sensitive to discuss with you at this stage.
- Your child may figure that peers will better understand certain points of view.
- You've become less of a confidant and more of a parent.
2. Intolerance of endearment. All kids go through the phase where they totally enjoy feeling loved by their parents. In fact, one of their favourite things is to be referred to by a “pet name.” However, the minute they start to become irritated by being called that name, it's time for you to avoid using it because they're reaching a stage of maturity.
3. They want more alone time. Kids usually enjoy the company of family members, especially parents. They like it when parents attend soccer matches. They enjoy playing video games with their mom or dad. And they still look forward to cuddling in front of the TV with you. You can know they're growing up and getting past that phase when:
- They head straight to the bedroom when they get home from school.
- They prefer to watch TV alone if the only other option is to watch it with you.
- They ask for less input as it relates to homework, personal affairs, and other matters.
4. Family time has to include a girlfriend or boyfriend. While you would prefer to hang on to the traditional family time experience, you'll probably have to get used to including your child's girlfriend or boyfriend as part of the activities. A maturing child will want to involve their “significant someone” in their family traditions.
5. They want to solve their own problems. A feeling of independence develops in your child with growing up. As such, he or she will require less assistance from you to solve problems.
Regardless of these changes, never feel like you're no longer loved or thought of as important to your child. It's straightforward for parents to think their children are slipping away, and you've probably experienced a little of that feeling. However, you really shouldn't worry; they're simply going through a necessary phase that you probably went through at their age too!
Growing up is a good thing; be patient with the changes and allow your child to grow up. They'll let you know when it's time to let go. Throughout the maturing phases, the details of your relationship will change, but your special parent-child bond can still grow in love and last forever.