Growing Pains: Accepting That Your Child Is All Grown Up

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 11/14/2013 | 02:30 PM EST

Everything in life has an expiration date, including raising your kids

Many parents will probably tell you that the hardest part to raising children is letting them go. When you raise a child from infant to young adult, it can be difficult accepting that they no longer need you as much.

If you’re one of those overbearing or overprotective parents, it’s time you put away the old baby pictures and accept the fact that the child you raised is all grown up. Getting over the growing pains that come with life and parenthood, however, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.

Usually, parents get a walk through while their child goes off to college. During this transitional phase, it may settle in that your job as a parent has reached its pinnacle. But it doesn’t have to mean you stop being a parent to your child; it’s just in a new, more evolved capacity. Children, no matter their age, need the love and support of their parents or guardians. It’s crucial to their development.

Some parents, however, don’t know when you cut the umbilical cord. Coddling your children only stunts their growth, or worse, causes them to resent you. So if you’re that parent who doesn’t want your 30-year-old son to move out of the house, or who’s constantly butting your head in your child’s love life, remember that you, too, were once their age, and everyone needs space to become their own person.

Letting your child spread their wings doesn’t mean you’ve given up or that they’re gone forever. It just means you’ve done your job to the best of your ability, and now it’s time to let them discover the world with a new lens. If you’ve done a good job, there’s nothing to worry about. Besides, there’s always the holidays.

Instead of worrying about your children, channel that energy back into your own life. Whether it be your marriage, or if you’re single, taking the time out to figure out who you are in life after parenthood is crucial to your wellbeing. Focus on goals you may have put on hold for the sake of your family, discover new things about yourself and get out there and dive into new activities and hobbies you always wanted to do. Everything in life has an expiration date, including raising your kids. But it doesn’t mean you’ll stop being an essential part of their lives.

(Photo:Cavan Images/Getty Images)

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