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Jan 2014

When your child leaves the nest.....and you lose the


It's been  a few months now since your oldest child has left the house and you find yourself struggling to maintain that control. You try giving instructions, barking orders, threatening consequences and finally you even resort to pleading. But you and your child have not found that happy equilibrium yet. It's not even really the loss of authority that bothers you. You've been trying to prepare yourself for the day and are quite confident in having raised a good kid after all. No, it's not that. What really keeps you awake at night is the complete sense of helplessness in making sure that your baby, hitherto nurtured with utmost care and safety, is out there in the 'wild' world. You can't control if he/ she follows all of the million safety instructions you gave even as you were getting back in your car after dropping them off to college. Not knowing makes it harder- you don't know if she's home safe, you don't know if she's drinking eight glasses of water as she promised you she will. You don't know if she's taking her medications. What's worse, she's been keeping so busy that she barely has any time to communicate with you. Everyone around you tells you to 'back off', to 'let go'. All got ideas. Exactly what you should be doing. But for us mothers, that doesn't come easy, even less so for us desi moms.
 So even though I'm not there yet, though soon will be (have a daughter who has started high school recently), as my friend and I talked on the topic, I thought to myself, what would I do? This is what I came up with and this is what I suggest- it's a simple two-point plan-
#1. Ask nothing of your college going kid except for two types of texts (if you get more, aren't you lucky?)-
'Leaving' or 'lEvN' as per the text lingo,
'Reached' or 'rEchD' as per the text lingo.
It doesn't matter from where or to where- as long as you know they reached okay. Don't text flood of questions, neither text them tons of instructions. Make a deal with your kid, if the 'leaving' is followed by a 'reached', he'll not get one hundred 'panic' texts. 
#2. Remember all those instructions that you so want to give the darling of your life, the center of your universe? And also, there're all those reminders as well, of course. Well, hold on to them. Yes, you do get to say it all. But just once a week. And later you may wean yourself (yes, that's right, yourself) to once a month and then to once a year even (okay, lets not get too optimistic :)). So, how do you get to say it? Put it all down in an email. Yes, you even get to say that you miss her deeply. But remember-

(Photo Credit: Copyright desideewar)

  • don't give instructions, just reminders
  • be as short as possible
  • state your feelings and concerns, omit out the accusations and the complaints
  • show compassion, show no anger or frustration
 (Sample above)

When your email is ready, sleep on it, be sure you've a nice and short note. Click 'send' when you know your child will be having some down time, say, on a Sunday.

So what do you really gain from writing these once a week emails?

First, when you're writing down the reminders, in the absence of your child's instant response, you're automatically showing compassion. When you talk, you tend to response, as, "Take your medicine, Okay? Did you? What? You forgot your medicine again? How careless can you get? Do I have to tell you every single thing?" (See how we tend to go from reminding, to asking, to getting frustrated, to (worst) judging. Compassion flies out the window).
Secondly, you get a sense that your suggestions 'reached' your child. When you're rapidly firing away on the phone or texts, your child's equally hurried response (or lack thereof) leaves you with a feeling of not having 'conveyed' the importance of it or with a feeling that it's not going to be followed or even that you're being perceived as being 'annoying' by your child. Did he almost mutter, "Back off, Mom"? This way you he gets it when he's more relaxed.

And believe me, he/ she will appreciate your 'gentle' reminders. They know that's what moms (or dads) are there for :).
(by Sonal Kulshrestha)


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