Parenting: When Success Feels Like Failure

Posted: July 6, 2013 in Life Lessons
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My son is 8. His grandparents (and other family members) have asked if he can spend the SUMMER with them? “ARE YOU CRAZY!?!?” At least that is what I thought, well I kinda say it too. There is no way I can go an entire summer without my LiL Homie (that’s what I can call him). I guess we should think of it as a complement, that someone would want to spend an entire summer with our son…and they asked us.

I asked someone the other day, at what age does a parent switch from dreading their child being gone for so long to asking “wanna take em for the summer?”

Well, we gave in, a little, and allowed him to go with Grandparents for 2 and a half weeks. He is in North Carolina spending much needed time with aunts, uncles, and cousins. But, we are only half way through and it feels like an eternity.

What is it that causes us, as parents, to press the “panic button” when our children are away for long periods of time? Fear that something might happen? Yep…but I have gotten passed that phase (with much prayer). But let’s fast forward about 10 years, to a time when it’s a bit longer than a summer vacation with family. A friend of mine said something the other day that made my stomach drop. He said, “You realize you only have another 10 years with him? After that, he will be moving on to college. Value and cherish the time now.” As I reflected, what made my stomach drop was the feeling of “not being needed” by him any more. Huuuhhhhh!!! (you know the sound you make when someone punches you in the gut?)

As a parent our goal should be to work ourselves out of a job. Parents have instincts to nurture, teach, and develop, but we still want to hold on forever. The Discovery Channel displays how animals and other species help their young discover their “kill or be killed” instinct…fly or fall to your death reality. There comes a time when a momma eagle will push her baby out of the nest and they better flap their wings before they hit the ground (or else).

There will come a time when we will have to trust what we have placed inside of them. A time when they can make decisions for themselves.

As parents, we can not hold on so tight (at 8 years old) and expect them, at 18, to be ready to make decisions and live apart from us if we never provide them with the opportunity to practice their decision making (while they are still within our reach to guide them when they made a mistake

They will make mistakes, that’s apart of the growth process. For some, success starts to feel like failure when their child begins to stand on their own two feet, realizing their independence, not needing us for every decision. We may mask it or not realize it, but empty nest syndrome is very real! We have to trust what we put inside them or start today preparing them for a life apart from us. The reality is, we will not be by their side all the time, but we should want them to use what we taught as a reference as they stand at the crossroads of life…having the moral compass to know right from wrong, good from bad, success from negative consequence, their decision not ours.

My wife and I now see it more as passing the torch. We want our son to be exposed to more than who we are so that he can discover who God has made him to be. It’s a big world out there and we can not possibly teach him all that he needs to know. We are imparting God’s word in him, so he will seek Gods voice as a guide instead of ours who could possible steer him wrong. We want him to realize who we were depending on to guide him in the first place. If you want to know the purpose of a thing, you must ask the one who created it. He is the only one that “knows the plans that He has for us, to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

When we take the focus off ourselves and focus on preparing them, our feeling of failure transforms into a feeling of joy as we realize that what we see them doing is flapping their wings right before they hit the ground. Now…we just have to let them fly.

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Comments
  1. Great blog – touching and yet filled with great insight. Information such as this will not only touch other Dads and Moms with that “hey, I feel that way too”, but will also provide real suggestions for them on methods that they may benefit from.

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