As I have now watched my three kids grow, evolve, morph and mature from helplessly adorable infants to helpful and independent young adults, I find myself thinking a lot about my own evolving role as a parent. Â As much as our kids change, so do we, and so do the strings we have attached to our children.
When they are infants, the tie between us and our kids is like a chain – they must be constantly and solidly connected to us, as they rely on their parents for just about everything in their tiny world view. Â We provide food, shelter, comfort, learning, even mobility. Â If the chain between us breaks, they are relatively helpless. Â Until they discover crawling and walking. Â Suddenly their world has become much larger, along with their sense of freedom to explore such world. Â Suddenly our grip loosens just a bit, and what was once a chain is now a less restrictive rope. Â Then they move from the world parents can totally control, to the real world of schools and playgrounds and chaos. Â The rope becomes a string, still attached strongly enough for us to easily yank them back under our protective wing, but with each passing year the string gains slack, and our kids gain more and more independence.
As they move into their teens, our kids miraculously grow wings and are determined to take flight at every opportunity. Â They have an innate desire to test the boundaries of their growing sense of self and independence. Â They are seemingly compelled to pull the string between us as taught as possible, challenging itsÂ strengthÂ and our ability to remain in control. Â As their increasing self-confidence drives them to take flight, they become like a kite at the end of our string, pulling hard in the wind, whipping back and forth to find a comfortable path, while we run along below them, tightly grasping the string, fighting to exert as much control and guidance upon the kite’s journey as we can. Â Sometimes we enjoy the synchronous calm of a perfect balance… and sometimes it simply seems impossible to keep the damn kite from a nosedive to the ground.
Finally, our children become young adults, and while they are not really kids anymore, our desire to hold onto that string is as strong as ever. Â They will always be our kids, and we will always be their parents. Â It is a constant that cannot be broken, perhaps the only one of its kind. Â As they go off on their own – Â to college, to jobs, to their own homes, to start their own families – they rise aloft, no longer pulling like a kite, but rather soaring boldly and gracefully like a bright and colorful balloon at the end of our string. Â And like that balloon, at some point we have to let go of the string and look up, smiling in awe as we watch them soar off magnificently on their own…
Jeff SassÂ is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20). Â He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast. Â You can see more of Jeffâ€™s writing atÂ Sassholes!Â andÂ Social Networking RehabÂ and you can listen to Jeff on theÂ Cast of DadsÂ andÂ Wunderkind!Â podcasts.