Thursday, January 13, 2011

A day at the beach

Laying it down
Deerfield Beach, FL, December 2010
[Please click here to contribute to the latest Thematic theme, wet]

I had come here with our eldest son and daughter on a cool, windy afternoon to walk along the ocean's edge and record it for posterity. Each of us had a camera, and we just wanted to drink in the uncharacteristically quiet beach and see if it offered up any interesting scenes. Nothing more involved than that.

It didn't take long for all of us to realize we had picked a great day for a shoot. I watched them slowly walk onto the beach, scanning thoughtfully. Our daughter found a spot to lay out her towel, sit down and figure out her next move. She remained there for a bit, saying nothing, watching the waves roll in. I hung back and let them figure out where they wanted to go, how they wanted to get there and what they wanted to do along the way.

It was quite a switch from my usual role. The dad in me has long thought parenting was all about doing stuff for your kids. And for much of their young life, it's played out exactly like that. But as they move through their teen years - just saying the word makes me realize how fast time has flown - I'm slowly learning that as they take on greater day-to-day responsibilities, the heavy parental lifting of making and doing begins its inevitable shift to guiding and facilitating.

So instead of placing the cameras in their hands, working the dials and controls for them and telling them where to go and what to capture, I let them figure it all out for themselves. It made for a great, memorable afternoon for us all.

Your turn: Letting go. Please discuss.

One more thing: This is the final entry in our wet theme (see here to squeeze one in under the wire.) We'll launch a new Thematic theme, far from home, later today (Thursday) at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

We like our parents, like their parents, and so on are just here to guide each other, to learn from each other as well. I've learned so much about my kids who are now adults.. I see a lot of my and my husband's personalities, philosophy in them... We raised them to be thinkers, to say what is on their mind ( which I was taught to not to do)... They are caring individuals, and most of all they have a bond that is indescribable.. I feel secure knowing that after I am long gone they will be all right cuz they will always have each other...

Sandy P. said...

Wow, Carmi! It's been ages since I've been blog hoping through the old haunts. Your children have grown into beautiful young folk. Something about your posts tells me that they are just as beautiful on the inside too. A testimony, of course, to the great parents they have who have learned when to hold tight and when to let go.

My kids are not yet teens, but the years go so quick it won't be very long. My oldest will turn 9 this year. They take two steps closer to independence and then rub back to demand some total *dependence* as if unsure about their own two feet in their own brave new world. The next time they venture, though, it is 3 strong steps ahead. It's bittersweet, isn't it?

Vicki said...

I agree with Kalei's Best Friend. We are to guide and instill in our children how to be productive, responsible parts of the world around them. As they get older, they need to be able to figure things out, to become independent. The greatest treasures we can share with our children are self confidence, self worth, and self reliance and to be there for the people they treasure the most. That does not mean that we "do" for them in actions (as they get older), but that we are are along side them supporting them.

Many parents today feel that their children are so involved in activities that the parent needs to make their beds and wash their clothes. When I was a teenage that was my responsibility. With growth and independence comes responsibility, but it is wonderful that us as parents have the opportunity to witness and guide our children through the process.

If we had known all the ups and downs in the beginning, would we still have made the choices we did?

For me, YES! The enrichment of family is such a wonderful possession.

Pat Tillett said...

Very thought provoking! It's too bad we don't know on an instinctual level about the imnportance of NOT doing everything for our kids. We've raised five of them. Each kid was raised differently as we evolved as parents. The oldest were pampered and the young ones were not. Well, guess which one's are the most independent and well balanced of the lot? Yup, the younger ones.
Great post!

Jules~ said...

That shift....the one from hands on guidance to standing back in has been a hard but pleasurable one to swallow for me. To purposefully step back because I knew it was what they needed to grow, to fall, to learn....
Now that they are 17 and 19 (which classifies them as young adults but still so young) I have found that by watching them I have grown too. My faith is stronger because I relinquished control. In watching them I have found that many times I learn from them.

I say it often but I think it bears repeating that the give and take of parenting is such an amazing, humbling and honoring job.

Just this morning as my brother was dropping of his baby daughter for me to care for, I saw him do something that made me think back to the days of when I was a new parent wanting to be so protective and shield them from everything.

Little One had toddled around the house and bonked on her tush in a miss step. Before she knew what to think he had whisked her up in affection and soothing comments to let her know it was okay to be scared and that he should have protected her from stumbling. His reaction made her think she had something to cry about. I had to smile as I encouraged him in the idea that sometimes the strongest thing we do as parents is step back and let them form their own way.

Thank you for being so transparent in sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed and wonderful day.