Resources for the Intentional Parent

The Season of Independence

The group text goes out….. “Meatballs with tarragon cream sauce over pasta and broiled asparagus. Let me know who’s planning on being here for dinner- Momma”. This is an actual text I sent to all four of my children, enticing them to gather as a family, with a very useful tool I have in my mother arsenal….food. My kid’s ages span from preteen to young adult.

Independence has become more and more a part of their lives and my momma-hold on them has slowly had to loosen its grip. I remember so clearly the days of bare-toed toddlers, snuggles after naptimes – kissing warmed flushed cheeks and burrowing my nose into downy hair. I remember them gathered around me on the bed reading picture books, my best character voices sinking them deep into worlds of color and imagination. I remember bath time, the silly bath tub song we sang when it was time to get in the tub and then scooping them up in a towel, papoosed in my arms as they snuggled closely into me to get warm. The smell of my clean babies… a forever memory.

A new season is upon our household. I sometimes long to go back to the days of the bath tub song, picture books and snuggles after naptimes but although I do pine for those sweet days, I also cherish this season I am in now. Our children’s growing independence is something I think we as parents want all of our children to healthfully move into. The thing I am most mindful of during this season, is acknowledging and encouraging my children’s independence and growth, while also maintaining genuine relationship and connection with them.

I have a large chair in the corner of my living room. Its brown leather is crackled, soft and worn and several stains speak of its well-used history. This is where I wait. This is where I pray, read and sit up late at night straining to hear the front door open. Once that face finally appears around the corner, my heart and mind relax and I am once again grateful that this independent one is back under my roof and within arm’s reach….learning to loosen the grip isn’t always easy.

I have come to terms with and am learning to stride in this new season, but I also have to be creative in finding ways and time to connect with my maturing family. There are a couple of things that help me facilitate connection with my teen and young adult children, and one of them is to be willing to stay up late. My husband and I have always been somewhat of night owls, but we have realized our best talks with our children often happen late at night when they walk in from a date or event out. We are a little more tired these days, but we are often willing to sacrifice sleep in order to steal a moment, an hour, for good conversation and connection with our child.

My best kept secret and strategy to keep relationship flowing and my family connected during this season of independence is, as I mentioned earlier, food. The idea of food might sound too simple, but kids of ANY age will be enticed by food. I love to make delicious meals and I lure my family with the smells of garlic simmering in olive oil or with sounds of vegetables sizzling in the wok. If my kids are not at home I call or text them to give them a most descriptive image of the meal awaiting them. I can even make breakfast for dinner sound gourmet if I have to. The point is, I am creating a gathering, a purpose for meeting, a time of fellowship as a family. Whether that gathering be around a take-out pizza or a gourmet meal it doesn’t matter…. Provide it, and they will come!

By Kudoso Kontributor, Kimberly Bridwell