Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things you can experience. However, that satisfaction will be tested continuously as your child grows.
And they are going to grow up, whether you are ready for them to or not.
You may not have a say in them aging, but you do have control over how you handle it. Your ultimate goal as a parent should be to raise independent children and to do so you can choose to adopt behaviors that will allow your child to develop into the amazing person you know they are.
1. Don’t dismiss their feelings.
It’s important to remember that what your child is going through now, they are experiencing it for the first time. It might seem like a small matter to you, having been there and done it before, but it is a big deal to your child. Allow them to feel the way they are feeling. Don’t dismiss their emotions but show understanding instead. Share similar stories from your past with them to help validate their experiences. As much as you’ll want to, they are not asking you to solve their problems. Just be there for them.
2. Treat them like adults.
One mistake most parents make is not adjusting how they treat their children to reflect that they are no longer adolescents. As they grow, they should be handed some of the responsibility and respect that adults command. Assign them a few tasks that they are accountable for and let them have ownership of them. Grant them conditional freedoms and reward them with more flexibility when they prove themselves to be responsible young people.
3. Give them the right information.
A very real concern with letting your child go is that they will fall victim to the wrong kind of influences. While you can’t be there to defend them every moment of their lives, you can arm them with a powerful tool: the right information. Pass on a strong sense of morality and be truthful with them about the dangers out in the world. Tell about the different scenarios they might face (from peer pressure to their emerging individuality). Teach them things you wish you were taught as a young person. Most importantly, make sure they know they are loved unconditionally.
Though it’s hard to let go, you have to have faith that you have done your best to raise your child. You can’t keep them from growing up, you can nurture the incredible person they become.
T.D. Jakes is a charismatic leader, visionary, provocative thinking, entrepreneur and compassion humanitarian with a voice that has reverberated from the world's most prominent stages. His look at life comes from the perspective of a father, a student, a pastor and a friend. His daytime talk show will be premiering this fall across the nation.
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