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Having a son is like having someone break up with you a little every day!

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Not to be Debby Downer, but there is some truth to this old expression I heard a long time ago. It stuck with me, partly because I did not ever think I would ever relate to this experience. But then it happened. Yesterday my boys were 5 and now they are 22.

We raise all our kids – boys and girls – to be independent and resourceful. In other words, we work ourselves out of a job. In the corporate world, we call this effective succession planning! In the mothering world, the whole process can be accompanied with some grieving.

Fortunately, there is another evolution that is occurring at the same time to more than compensate for the loss. Once we have raised these wonderful human beings, we get to enjoy their company as adults! As wonderful as this is, it does require going through some change.

As Stevie Nicks wrote:

Well I’ve been afraid of changin’

‘Cause I built my life around you

I use a skiing analogy with my coaching clients whenever a fear of change or the unknown is holding them back. This analogy is also relevant to parenting and so I will share it.

Early in our marriage, we lived in Switzerland. To this point, I had not become a proficient skier. This had to change because we were surrounded by some of the most amazing mountain ranges in the world! However, it was taking me an inordinate amount of time to learn.

I took lessons. I sought advice. I practiced. I fell. Nothing worked.

Eventually, I came across a tip that worked - pick out a tree down the mountain, and centre it between my two poles while heading downhill. This forced me to lean forward instead of leaning back towards the ground. I realized that due to my fear of heights, I had been clinging to the mountain. Ironically, my fear of falling was actually causing me to fall more. By leaning forward and away from the mountain, I found my balance and it was an instant breakthrough! I never became an expert, but I could make it down the mountain in one piece and even have fun along the way!

Sometimes, there are other areas of our lives where we would do better to lean forward and not cling to the past or some notion that is holding us back out of fear of the unknown. While clinging to that object/relationship/idea or whatever may seem like the safe way, what are we missing in the meantime?

So, I am learning - or trying to learn - not to cling to the past but instead enjoy this new phase. If anyone has any tips for navigating how to parent adults, I am open to suggestions!

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