Like me some of you will have children that are away at University or are just going. My eldest Ben has been back in Manchester quite a while as he went back to work when the bars reopened, and then my youngest Jack joined him in Manchester about a month ago, as they are sharing a house so he thought he may as well settle in and try and find a job, as he was already paying rent on the house.
So that was difficult enough saying goodbye to both your children and coming back home without them for the first time. Then this week we start hearing about lockdowns and the virus spreading among university students with over a hundred students testing positive at Manchester Metropolitan University and 2 halls of residence building quarantined. I cannot imagine what it must be like for the parents of those young people and the young people themselves in those residence. Well I can imagine, and what I am imagining makes me feel incredibly sad. All we want to do as parents is to protect your children, so leaving at university is heart wrenching as it goes against your instincts, so leaving them during a time of international crisis is so distressing. They are after all still children learning to be adults. But we have to let them learn to be adults, we have to let them experience independence.
This morning when I started to feel sick with worry, and go into a mild panic, I had to stop myself. First I had to acknowledge why I had that reaction. I obviously reacted that way because I love them. This love is the very reason why we brought them up to be loving, resilient and independent young men. Because we love them, they deserve the our respect, that they can support each other, and keep safe. We will support them if they need us, and we both worry about them. But being a loving parent means you have to let them experience life on their own two feet, even through an international crisis. To be honest they have as much experience of this as we have. Therefore they are just as entitled as us to make mistakes, and they are just as entitled to be as scared as we are.
We have to allow our children to experience the world as an adult even when the world is upside down. The desire to go and get them and keep them safe at home is very strong, and in the short-term might help, but in the long term it can make it all the harder for everyone. The realisation that we cannot keep our adult children safe is hard to swallow, but we have to trust that our parenting up to this point has equipped them to keep themselves safe.
When we grew up and left home we thrived, even though our ability to keep in contact with parents and school friends was limited to conversations in telephone boxes and maybe letters. We can now communicate with each other, with ease, via a multitude of platforms, and we can either track each others movements.
So lets fight that urge to put a protective shield around them and allow them to flourish into the amazing, incredible adults you raised them to be.
If I am honest (you may have guessed) this was a little pep talk to myself, but I hope it helps some of you.
If you are struggling and want to learn to resist the urge to jump in the car and bring them home, then get in touch, I do coaching sessions for parents of young adults, as well as coaching for young adults that are finding it harder than they thought.
You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
All my sessions are done via zoom at the moment.