In the last six months in our family, we have been working hard towards independence for our youngest daughter who will be 17 in the summer. Now as a parent, I had been through the bottomless pits of self-harm, suicidal tendencies, depression, self-loathing, identity issues and more with my teen. The last thing I wanted to think about is releasing my teen into the wild – especially when you have been so very careful in tending to their struggles and specific needs of healing.
However, there comes a time when the eagle must prepare the little fledgling for flight. If the eagle parent doesn’t, then the fledgling becomes immobile, weak, and not mature right.
For a parent to do the same with their teen can be scary. You worry if they will have a set-back, a melt-down, or worse yet, another serious crisis. What if that little fledgling forgets to open their wings or is not strong enough to keep their arms up and soar with the rest of the crowd?
It can be a nightmare when you allow your imagination to get the best of you.
With lots of open dialogue and goal setting, we decided as parents to support our daughter in many of the changes she wanted to make in order to gain that independence. By doing so, the rise of self-esteem and confidence was a great encouragement to her as well as having a supportive family to back her up.
When we first started out with the so called “List of Independence”, it was quite small. But with time, it grew and grew and hasn’t stopped since. There were some things on that list in which I loudly protested, “WHOA! Can, we just pull back on that one?” In fact, there were quite a few I rolled my eyes on.
As we talked more, I began to see something I had not seen before. With this growing independence, there was less and less of a teen standing in front of me and more of a teen with an adult approach on life. With everything she had been through in the last seven years, she learned that in order to move forward in life, you have to take the first step no matter how scary it is.
This wasn’t a teen who wanted to change her hair color or change the style of her clothes. They were deep changes, like really searching her heart for the career that would not just benefit her but also others. It was leaving our family church and finding her own which she has partially done. It was taking chances and going outside of her comfort zone to experience new and exciting adventures as well as giving her teachable moments about herself.
There is a famous line in a children’s movie called Nanny McPhee and it goes like this:
Nanny McPhee: There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It’s rather sad, really, but there it is.
Simon Brown: We will never want you!
Nanny McPhee: Then I will never go.
My daughter memorized and quoted this to me recently and we had a good laugh. You see, when she was in crisis, she needed us badly even though she would push us away. Now, she is needing us less and I told her that a time will come in which we will have to let her go. Either way, she knows in her heart that we will be there IF she asks us.
For many parents whose teens have come through recovery from various issues, this new step for them will be a little bumpy but so very rewarding in the end. It will be as if your teen or young adult is being re-born again with a new life, a new outlook, and a new purpose. And with Christ’s guidance and direction, it will be successful.
For other parents, you may still be in that process of trying to find answers and hope for your teen or in a place of recovery with them.
I can encourage you in this – I have met many parents whose children had a lot of odds against them, who were in crisis after crisis, and they hung on to every bit of hope that was there.
Remember that you are not alone. There is great hope for your teen. God so desires to heal your family and will continue to provide you with the help you seek. He will carry you on His wings until that time of complete healing.
Before you know it, you too, will be at that place to support your fledgling along the new road to adventure and independence.
“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. (NAS)
Image courtesy of csp_pike at fotosearch.com