I last night dropped off at the airport our oldest child, who will be in France for a school-sponsored language immersion program. Each student will live with a French family, take summer classes at the local university, and enjoy the local sights and culture (one stop will be Mont Saint-Michel, in the photo up top). Some teachers from the school are with the students, serving as chaperons.
It is a big trip, and is a great opportunity to be away from home. It is a special time. The school offers financial aid to those families who need it, and so, there’s a broad diversity of students on the trip. For most, it will be a student’s first experience away from home.
Honestly, as a parent, I had mixed feelings while at the airport. On one hand, I’m so happy when my children are happy and excited. One the other hand, I’m just starting to get exposed to that “empty nest” feeling. I know that in a few years, we’ll start to have children leave for college, and over time, it will just be my wife and I again.
Life is very much about “seasons.” For me, there’s been a time to be single, a time to marry, and a time to raise/nurture children. Now, with our older children, it is becoming a time to let go.
I’ve blogged before here about teaching children to “learn to fail” or they will “fail to learn.” It takes some time to remove the bubble wrap around your children and allow them to stumble and navigate their own way through bad decisions. It has taken time to learn to bite my tongue.
Eventually, parenting truly shifts. It is less about leading the children. It becomes more about helping them problem-solve when things don’t go well due to bad decisions. It is about setting a few absolute rules to create boundaries (one of ours is: “no drinking, no drugs, no smoking”) and letting them navigate between those guardrails.
Parenting becomes less about “telling.” It becomes more about “showing.”