Hold them close with wide open arms: advice for parents letting go

We dropped our daughter off at her university residence on the weekend. Since then she has been happy and busy with orientation activities, and we have been adjusting to the new hole in our family home.

It’s harder than I thought it would be.

I’ll have to adjust to a quieter dinner table. I’ll have to learn to cook for three instead of four. I’ll have to watch Castle by myself—something my daughter and I always did together. It’s all the little things that add up to the ache of missing someone.

But at the same time I celebrate her newfound independence. She will learn to compromise and to share with her new roommate. She will learn to negotiate bathroom times with three other girls. She will learn how to use coin-operated laundry machines. She will learn how to budget. If she doesn’t, she’ll learn to do without. She will learn good study habits. If she doesn’t, she’ll learn how to fail.

There are no more appropriate words for the situation than those from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They came through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thought
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

2 thoughts on “Hold them close with wide open arms: advice for parents letting go

  1. Jeannette Monahan

    Hang in there. It does get easier. Though…we dropped my son off for his senior year at college, and after having him home all summer–yeah, the hole is pretty big. The Prophet is one of my favorites, and this passage especially.

    Reply

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