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How do we continue to act as role models for our adult children?

Article by Jackie O’Carroll

Part of getting older is being wiser about parenting – making a success of our lives, continuing to act as role models for our children. But sometimes it’s hard.

Leaving our son and daughter in London, where they both live, we are heading back up north to Liverpool. Over the years I have learnt to let go.

It’s not easy and I know that if they were living at home again full time it might be different.

I know that they need their own space, that they need parents who believe in them and who encourage them to go – to make their own mistakes, their own success, their own lives. But it is still hard, watching them go, walking away to their own lives of which I know some, but probably not much! As it should be really.

Trusting sons and daughters

I remember when they were teenagers….our friends had different views about how much freedom, privacy and independence our children should have. We played it by ear, trusting that our son and daughter would know for themselves – they responded with respect for us as parents and a belief in themselves.

In the midst of this letting go however, there remains the pull to keep them close, to warn of dangers and risks, to limit their choices. But we managed not to. Even so, watching them walk away from us, towards their own lives is hard. I still shed a few tears and think of when they were little and needed us so acutely, so much. Now they need us in very different ways and of course we are still there for them.

Sometimes I wonder if I am now too independent and focused on my own life and goals? But of course if needed I would drop everything to support them, That will never change.

So what can we learn from our ‘growing up’ children?

That the letting go,  trusting them and ourselves is hard but vital, for without that we limit both our children and ourselves.

That our children need encouragement to move out of their comfort zones, that having the courage to step forward is the way to feeling fulfilled and proud of themselves and their achievements…and that they have to keep on doing it – as do we!


Jackie O’Carroll is a Personal Development Coach, motivator and facilitator. Through her business ‘The Room of Possibilities’ Jackie offers 1 to 1 and group coaching, workshops and programmes to support women looking to re – find their passion for life! For further information contact Jackie on mail@jackieocarroll.com




Main image photo credit:  Free Digital Photos

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  1. Irene Brankin

    May 17, 2012

    I really admire your courage and wisdom in what you’re doing and it can’t be easy for you. At the same time I know you’ll take every advantage of the freedom you will have just as they will – enjoy all the growing that’s going to be done. Irene x

  2. Rosemary Bailey

    May 17, 2012

    I so agree with this, but I do wonder about parents who now have to make room in their empty nest for their children to return? Or indeed the ones where the children don’t leave. This is increasingly so in London where I live where students are encouraged to stay at home wiht their parents, leaving Uni accommodation for out of town kids. But perhaps our generation of parents are better at this – more accommodating and more liberal.
    And then I think of Italy, and to a lesser extent France, where they stay much longer at home; men in Italy typically stay at home with Mamma till they are 30. These are societies where the family seems to be much stronger, and of course at the same time more enclosing and limiting….
    I suppose my ideal would be to see the family as a kind of community in which the children grow up and learn to be part of a community, sharing, helping, (finally taking out the rubbish without being asked) being sympathetic and understanding of others.
    My own son is at Uni in London and still at home at 21- and some friends say to me, “He has to leave – make his own mistakes!” And I think, Why? Why can’t I support him and do his washing until he is ready to go…

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