And now that I am on the brink of those days I can say that while I am not necessarily dreading it, I am definitely seeing it through bittersweet eyes. I love being a mom, playing with my babies, reading aloud to them, and holding them when they are sick. I love conversations and games with the older ones, and seeing their interesting personalities come out as they matured.
But time moves on.
I need to not only let my older children fly, but help give them wings to do it. For some of my children, that means encouraging them to attend college. In the beginning of our parenting years my husband and I were influenced in some ways, by patriarchal teaching. At the time I thought that I would never have any of my daughters attend college. Thankfully we did not continue that pendulum swing, and have found a kind of middle ground. I now see that college can be used in different ways. The most obvious one is to gain a career, but for those not wanting a full-life career, just taking a few classes can be very valuable.
Bookworm has said that some of the classes she can take will help her become a better homeschooling mom. And with technology today, there are lots of options for our children. CLEP testing and online classes are quite prevalent and can be used very successfully.
College learning is not for everyone, as a couple of my children are showing us. Trade schools are also valuable places to learn and give great hands on skills. I also want my children to know how to cook (Mr. Lego too!) and how to clean house. (They have done chores since they can walk so this is not problem). I have also created a semester curriculum on childhood diseases and illnesses. I want them to be responsible parents and to be able to make wise decisions about their own babies.
And yes, I believe it is important for them to leave the home someday. For our son this might be sooner rather than later. And not because he is the oldest, but because both My Sweetie and I feel that it is important for young men to feel the responsibility of being on their own. We both feel strongly that this gives dignity to our sons and helps them along in life. That doesn't mean we are kicking any of these young people out - on the contrary, we have had many conversations as they have grown, and have encouraged them to spread their wings and fly from the nest.
My older children that are (and will) live with us after 18 still need to have responsibility. At this point in our parenting journey, we have come up with some things our older children must do to live at home. These include having a written budget, letting us know where they are and when they'll be back, and keeping their space clean and doing a couple of household chores a week.
Which leads to another thing that I am learning - Pick Your Battles, or in other words, Give Up Some Control.
My husband and I are learning to decide on those few places that we will not budge on and to stand by them. There are things that you should, and need to, require of those older children living in your home. Honestly? This short list should be able to be counted on one hand.
These people living in your house are adults. With brains all of their own. In lots of ways, in more ways that you think, they need to make their own decisions and plans.
For example, having them register for their college classes all on their own. Or, having them make their own doctor appointments. Or decisions they make about what they do during their free time. For years as parents, we have made these choices and done these things for them. But we need to let go of this responsibility. Let them make choices. Let them lead and decide things. Knowing at times, they might fail at things, miss opportunities, and make poor decisions, which can be very hard to watch indeed.
This is especially for us moms! These are our babies, that we have always had so much control over. We need to remember that they need to fly. And sometimes nudging them to fly can be hard. Some will eagerly stand on the edge of the nest and jump, while others really need a kick in the pants to get started.
Praying for wisdom during this time is so important. Knowing how and when to encourage them make their own decisions is different for each child and home. Thanks be to God that he already knows our plans and gives us wisdom, through our church, godly friends, and the Bible, to give guidance to our older children.
Thoughts on Older Children Part 4: Who Drew the Map?
Thoughts on Older Children Part 2: What Did We Expect?
Thoughts on Older Children Part 1: Communication is Huge