Parenting is a lot of things, and it's a lot of work. In the beginning, we're basically just trying to keep them alive, you know? As they grow, we're trying to help them learn and develop and figure out how to navigate the world. We're also laying the groundwork for when they're teens and young adults and on their own - that work starts early! We're giving them the building blocks to be good people and make good, smart choices. And honestly, it's A LOT of work. At some point, we've just got to trust that we've done the best we could to get them to adulthood, and stop trying to control and manage every single aspect of their lives.
They're grown, they're their own people - we did it! We did the job we set out to do. It's exhausting to make brain space to worry and care about EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING our teens and young adults have going on, right? Author Jen Hatmaker decided that she'd had enough of the micromanaging, and we're totally on board with following her lead on this.
In a Facebook post on her page, Jen Hatmaker shares a story about her husband Brandon telling her about some questionable behavior one of their kids had engaged in. Now, Jen and Brandon have five kids, so someone is always going to be doing something questionable. And some of her kids are off to college now, living on their own! So really, there's only so much she can do and only so much care she can devote to managing those kids, you know?
Jen's response to Brandon was, "I can't care about everything. I have zero capacity for another set of rules, enforcement, and consequences. I've done all I can do here. Please have a nice day." Because here's the thing - for days and weeks and months and years, all we do as parents is care. All we do is worry and stress and try to fix and redirect our kids and their actions and their choices. All we do, from the time they're born to the time they finally leave our homes, is try to help them live their lives in the best way possible. At some point, we just have to say ... no more.
This is not to say that once our kids are grown and on their own, we should stop caring about them at all. Quite the opposite! Now we get to worry about if they're eating well or doing OK in college or at their jobs, if they're happy and making good choices or doing things that could hurt themselves or others. We never stop caring. But we can, and we should, stop trying to manage it all. We've raised them for 18 years, given them the tools they need to succeed in this big world, and now we have to let them do just that. We don't need to know it all - every detail about their lives, every decision, every secret. We just need to be confident in the fact that we've gotten them this far, and they can manage the rest.