Parenting nuggets: On the issue of guilt and letting go

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I was speaking to a group of mums recently and one of the mothers talked about how she wanted to go on a trip but could not because she was still breastfeeding her 16month old child. The other mothers scolded her for waiting too long to wean off the child. The mother confided in me that it’s not like she didn’t want to but she felt guilty like she had not done enough. She also felt that breastfeeding was a bonding time for her and her child and letting that go would mean she would lose that bond. I completely understood where she was coming from.

Whether it’s the end of breastfeeding, the first day of school, going away to boarding house, or walking the bride down the aisle to give her away, we all have that stage where it is hard for us to let our child go. We all have our reasons why we wait too long to let go but mostly it is guilt, over-protectiveness and the fear of losing our mother-child bond (that one that we feel is stronger than daddy’s bond ????don’t deny it we all secretly feel like ours is stronger).

Whatever the stage we need to come to terms with the fact that these events in your child’s development mark the times when you allow your child to take another step toward becoming a free-standing human being. The teenage years are usually the most difficult especially as you have less and less control over your child’s developing and need to make his/her own decisions. But you as a parent just need to ‘grow up’. Don’t cry when you want to stop breastfeeding, don’t attend classes with them, don’t follow them to boarding school and hang around everytime and don’t even dream of moving into their house when they get married. Can’t you see how childish you look doing these things?

What can help is to prepare yourself ahead of time. Start giving your child a chance to master doing things on their own and learn from mistakes. Trust that the values you’ve instilled will inform their decisions but most importantly acknowledge that you’ve done your best as a parent. When you have done the best you can in raising a well grounded child, an independent child, then it becomes easier to let them move on to the next phase of their lives without you crying tears and blood. Doesn’t mean you won’t still want to cry.

For me, breastfeeding was a bit difficult but I learnt earlier on that starting the child early on solid makes the transition easier. As for going off to school, I prepared my children by taking them out very often to mix with other kids so that they are familiar with faces of otherchildren like them. Building their confidence was the key. I guess I was just lucky. For as long as you cling to your children like a lifebelt, you will cease to grow up.

What areas have you struggled with letting go and why?

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