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What to Do When Children 'Outgrow' Their Parents

Children go through stages but what do you do when that stage means they don't need mom as much?

As moms we know all to well that children go through stages. Not every child goes through every stage but, reality is, they all have ups and downs. There are babies who can’t bear to give up binkies and bottles, toddlers who want nothing to do with anyone but their mom, kids that cry every day as they leave for kindergarten and an endless variety of daily crisis that only a mom can fix.

No two kids are the same, no two stages are the same and no two moms handle things the same way. Somehow we all survive and, as if by miracle, seem no worse for wear in the long run. 

Yes, it’s a dark little secret and no one likes so say it out loud but sometimes, even the best moms, feel a bit smothered by our kids. We love our kids and we would do anything on earth for them but, alas, there are days when we simply feel a bit too “needed.”

Its not that we don’t love our children but motherhood is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job with no lunch hours, no coffee breaks and no sick days. It is, undoubtedly, the hardest job on earth. Motherhood requires complete and total commitment and doesn’t come with a benefits package.

So, what happens when our kids get older and, all of the sudden, they are at a stage when they don’t need us around quite so much? Sure, we want them to grow up and to gain independence but there’s a big difference between walking to the bus stop themselves and going off to college.

As the mom of a 12-year-old it seems that, in many ways, the tables have turned on me. Instead of feeling smothered by a needy child I find myself remembering not to smother him. These days, instead of making decisions for him, I have to remind myself to let my son be independent and make many of his own decisions. 

I watched recently as my high school friend Lynn, who started her family as a very young woman, became a grandmother for the first time. While I am still raising a middle schooler she has seen her journey as a parent come full circle.  She raised two beautiful daughters, watched both graduate from school and embark on successful careers, has seen one daughter marry and now has a brand new grandson in her life. 

Perhaps the greatest reminder of how very important the role of being a mom is could be stepping into the new role of grandmother? Let’s face it. The only woman on earth who can save the day when mom is having a tough time is grandma. As a friend once said to me, “the only person that I truly know loves my child as much as I do is my mother.”

This month as I watch so many of the young people in my life and prepare for college I’m reminded that, even though our kids are growing up, it doesn’t mean that they are outgrowing us. It simply means that they are entering another stage that, as we all know, doesn’t last forever.

Jordan Lawler Mavrogiannis June 12, 2012 at 03:18 PM
My baby boyns famous lol great article Chris!! Xoxo
Carla June 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Christine- I can so relate to everything you write as a Mom! I too have a son (8 years old). I'm seeing everything your write in your columnne with your child happening to me, just different stages! Thank you for giving me many insights!!!!

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