Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Kind Are You?

"Mummy, I want to live with you forever."

If you're a parent of a child or children who are old enough to speak, you have probably heard these words.

What do they do to you?

I know some parents react with a don't-be-ridiculous kind of response and utter words something along the lines of, "No way buddy! As soon as you turn 18 you're outta here!"

And for other parents these words are music to their ears. Their response is more like, "Of course you, Darling!"

Are you a kick them out as soon as possible kind of parent?
Or are you a hold them as close as possible for as long as possible kind of parent?

No prizes for guessing which one I am.
When my boy says he never wants to leave home, I tell him he can live with me for as long as he wants.

Before you gasp in mock horror...or real horror...just listen for a minute.
I am quite well aware that my role as a parent is to instill a sense of confidence in my children, to allow them to become independent, well adjusted, contributing members of society.
And believe it or not, that is what I am doing telling my kids they can live with us forever if they wish.

The thing is I fully expect them to move out way before I'm ready for them to.
Because my motive is not to keep them tied to me much as I adore that idea.
My motive is to allow them to feel safe and secure, which fosters confidence and independence.

Put yourself in the shoes of a small child for a minute, if you can.
You have no concept of life beyond Mum, Dad and siblings.
You still need Mum/Dad to do a lot, almost everything, for you.
The idea of being put out of the family home to fend for yourself would be immensely terrifying.
Because, of course, they cannot put themselves in the shoes of their 18ish year old self and see that it might not only be do-able...but kinda fun.

So, for now, whenever they ask, I will tell them I'm here for them now and always.
And I will be. 
All the while teaching them and encouraging them to become grown-ups who can fend for themselves when the time is right.

I have no doubt they will leave my nest.

But they don't need to know that...yet.


  1. I swear to you - Alexander and I just had this conversation 10 minutes ago. Bizarre!

    We were snuggling in bed and he was talking about something he wanted to do when he was older. ANd I told him not to be in such a rush to grow up, as I wasn't ready for him to leave me.

    He was shocked and upset and said "I never want to leave you". I asked him about getting married and having children of his own (his goal in life is to be a daddy), and he said "Yes, but I always want to be near you. I will always love you this much).

    I'm ok with letting him believe that as long as he wants. I know I still need to pretend. I'm not ready to let it go.

  2. Great answer. I tell my boys the same thing, even though I fully suspect they'll be gone from Fibrotown the moment they can.

  3. Couldn't agree more and so well written Thea. I always felt so welcome at home, never pressured to move out and when I did at 22, I made the decision and I was sad about it in a way.
    My boys will always be able to stay with me, no matter what. But of course I'd like them to do/be whatever makes them happy, as long as they're being good people. So if they choose to leave the nest at 18, I'll support that too!

  4. We do a bit of both....I joke with them that they'll have to live in their own house someday! But we always say afterwards, "This is your home. You can live here for as long as you want."

    Although, I'm all for what my friend's mother did. She charged a certain percentage of all her kids' earnings as board each week (she didn't want it to be unfair if one child was a higher earner than others by setting a set amount). She assured them their room was always there for them, but they had to contribute financially. I think that's brilliant! It's just enough for them to learn that they need to help out with food etc, and I think it makes them appreciate what they have. I'm not talking a high percentage here, but my parents always charged board, and I think that was a good thing.

    You are gorgeous. xx

  5. Having come from a split home and being told to get out when I was 17 (end of Yr 11), and then having to fend for myself practically as my Yr 12 exams finished - I set up house with my now husband but it wasn't a choice I would have made, obviously, had I been given the option - I will be ensuring my child knows she is more than welcome for as long as she pleases.

    Miss Almost-5 is already independent enough for me to know she'll not be the kind who lives here til she's 35. She's got too much to see and do for that ;) I cannot fathom telling her at this age (or anytime soon) that she can 'leave me', I don't use that sort of talk with her. It goes without saying that a child this young would be horrified if I told her she'll move out one day. Too soon. Plenty of time for those conversations yet!

  6. Your motive to allow your children to feel safe and secure, definitely fosters confidence and independence.


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