"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 forever...as 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.