Ready for the real world?

My daughter is in her last year of high school and as the final exams move ever closer I can see that she is well on the way to being an adult. The constraints of child-hood; going to school, wearing uniform, being told to clean her room, living by parental and school schedules, now all appear like ill-fitting clothes. Life is one size too small and she’s ready for bigger and broader experiences.

This has got me thinking about being a parent and about our roles in life. I’ve always aimed to provide her with a safe and secure environment as well as opportunities for development. I’m certainly very happy with how she has embraced those opportunities and become an interesting thoughtful human being. If there is hope for our species, it’s in the minds of young people like my daughter.

But soon she will no longer be my child and may well leave home to continue studies, to travel or work. She will go into the world and be an adult responsible for her own decisions. For many parents this stage is unsettling. For me it’s liberating and I’m excited to watch what she does with her life.

There are many ways to look at preparing a human being for life. We can build a nest or cage, that is both nurturing but constraining. Offering comfort, support and boundaries. When they leave we can feel empty, all that time and effort and then suddenly they are gone, all that remains is an empty cage. Or we can look at parenting as building a platform, a launching pad for the future. I much prefer the latter. I like to think I’ve given my daughter what she needs to dive into the world and make of it what she wants. She is not an extension of me. Her purpose in life is not to correct mistakes I or others in her lineage have made. Her purpose is to live the best life she can. Actually her purpose is up to her. From me she will always have the support and grounding to restart if needed or to keep flying higher. And I look forward to being a parent to an adult-child and sharing life experiences that don’t involve me always having the answers (unlikely as it may seem), sharing experiences between human beings, not just between father and daughter.

Our roles in life are what we make them and they change all the time. It seems wrong of me to resist that change and far better to embrace it.

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

4 Comments on “Ready for the real world?

  1. Thank you for another wonderful post. My eldest left home some years ago now and like you I found it a liberating and enjoyed watching her spread her wings and fly. Family and friends felt the need to gather around me and comfort me in a time they were sure I must be finding difficult. It was them who found it difficult, not understanding the joy and happiness I felt for my daughter and the young woman she had become.

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