Parenting: When to Cut the Cord?

When is it Time to Let Go of Your Children?

By Kym B.

It took a long time for me to cut that cord I had roped around my daughter, who is now a junior in college.  Let her tell it, the knot is still wrapped around her, but little does she know I have let go tremendously. 

It is not that I didn’t trust everything I taught her to be and not to be; or what to do and not do--I was just simply scared.  It is cold, uncaring and downright dangerous out there in the world.  And with every news broadcast of a kidnapping, rape, accident or crime I found myself suffocating my children.

I knew years ago that I had a problem, when every time my daughter failed the driving test I did an internal happy dance! 

Yet, I remember when I was 16-years-old, I couldn’t wait to drive freely away from my mother’s clutch; (my mother’s clutch was nowhere near as strangling as mine, during that non-seatbelt law era).  So, why didn’t I allow that same independence for my own kids?  They clearly grew up in a much better environment than I did.  Still, I was obsessed with protecting them so much that I would make up scenarios in my mind.

Scenario 1: If they went for a walk around the neighborhood without me that would be the day I’m sure a rabid fox would attack them. 

Scenario Two: If she drove down the street to the store the worst aggressive-drunk-distracted driver who was on their cell phone would jump the curb and cause a major accident. 

I was at the point that I didn’t care if my children resented me for the rest of their lives for keeping them safely tucked under me.  As long as they are safe!

The breaking point occurred when I recognized that I went into total depression when my daughters went away.  Last summer my youngest daughter went down the street (yes down the street – less than a mile away) to a residential summer camp. One of the rules was “no cell phones.”  When my husband pointed out that I showed her every way of how to conceal the cell phone so she could call me every hour on the hour – the signs of a problem were becoming clear.  Or, at the end of each summer when my oldest child had to return to college, I would take to the bed for a week – I needed help! 

Finally, it hit me when my daughter came home, last spring, for her break. 

Clearly she had this new “adult” independence, college-all-knowing attitude about her that clashed with every conversation we held – she had to GO (with a capital “G”)!  I realized two adult women in the same house was not always the best mix.  I couldn’t tell her she wasn’t allowed to go out and punishments were no longer allowed. 

By law and maturity, she was indeed a young adult.  My cord began to unravel, and whether I wanted to let go or not, my hold was weakening.  I had to accept the inevitable – she was growing up and I had to allow her to find her own path. 

The old saying “let go and let God” is so true!  We are much better with each other now.  I’m enjoying establishing our second level of life as women-friends. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still and will always be her mother.  I’ve moved from “mommy” to “mom;” not literally but in the emotional sense; where we are free to have adult conversations and enjoy each other’s presence.

However, I am a slow learner.  And, I am thankful that my youngest daughter, who is a preteen, still allows me to double-knot that cord. #Don’tJudgeMe

Kym B.

Kym B. is an International Policy Analyst for the US Department of State and she owns a clothing design boutique with her daughter.

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