Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I was going to begin this blog post by apologizing for straying from my usual topic of crafting and creating, but the more I thought about it, I realized this is about creating after all. It's about creating responsible adults, which I have been working at for 21 years now. This week I have delivered my two oldest, my ADULT children to college, and as I observed them settling in, I began to contemplate exactly how they suddenly became such responsible, adult human beings. What follows are my conclusions.

It all comes down to teaching our children to make appropriate choices. I believe this process began when they were very small, toddlers even. Would you like to wear the orange tshirt or the blue one? (Steve always chose orange. Still does). Nightlight on or off? (duh!) Once they mastered choices between two items, we offered more complex ones. What sport would you like to learn to play? What would you like to be for Halloween? (a ladybug? Really Leigh Anne? AGAIN?). We always offered only choices where we were willing to accept their decisions and respect them. Even if we disagreed.

Sometimes letting the kids make choices was hard for me! I remember literally sitting on my hands while 2 year old Leigh Anne tried over and over to put a puzzle piece in the wrong space. "Do you think it might fit better somewhere else?" I might ask. Her response was usually a look that said "really Mom? Are you doubting me?" I would sit back and wait for her to reach the right decision on her own. That was tough! But, looking back, I realize that it was a lesson better learned in the harmless world of puzzle-doing than later on when a bad decision would be more consequential, even dangerous.

By the time my kids reached the teen years, they had become very good at decision making and problem solving. Not perfect, mind you, but then again, are any of us? I think not. They were able to make good choices even when they were out of my sight. Did I cease to worry about them? No. But did I trust them to choose wisely? Yes indeed.

The other day I attended a gathering for parents at ASU. There was a dad there who currently has three kids in college. THREE! The gal moderating the event asked if he had any advice for the rest of us. He said "Trust your kids. Let them handle things. You've done your job, raised them to be adults, now step back and let them do it". Wow. Wise words he shared. I suppose that's why I started thinking about this. And I needed to write down my thoughts. For me. And for my kids.

I am home now. Although it was tough, I am comfortable leaving two responsible decision makers in Arizona. I trust that they will continue to make wise choices. They can call home anytime, and my husband or I will be happy to hear them out and help them figure things out. They know that. I have one more here at home who I can continue to steer and influence for a while yet. Ally makes good choices, just like her siblings, and soon enough she will be off making them on her own. I'm glad I still have a little time with her! I'm so proud of all three kids. They're incredible.

Gosh, it will only be a couple of years and hubby and I will be left to make some decisions of our own. It's hard to believe.

Ok, off my soapbox. Back to your regularly scheduled crafty goodness....


Todd said...

Thanks for the advice Sis! We are trying similar approach with Mackenzie. She picks her outfit for school each morning. This one or that one. Sometimes her shoes don't exactly match, or there might be a better pair in the closet, but tell me, who can notice her shoes when she goes to school with a big smile on her face.

I can only hope to raise kids with as much success as you have. I have such wonderful nieces and nephews. I thankful to have all of my older siblings to help me raise my little one.

Maria said...
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Maria said...

What a wonderful post Ellyn. Sounds like you and your DH have raised great young ADULTS who will make good choices.
Enjoy young Ally.
Your sister's comment made me cry. So nice to know how she feels about you and your kids.

Sewjoe said...

I think my adjustments are much harder than my children's right now. They are enjoying freedom and I am scared of freedom. Glad you made it home safe!

Melissa said...

What a lovely post Ellyn. So glad you're back home.