Happy Mother’s Day, Now Let Go!
Being a parent on Mother’s Day is challenging and perplexing. It seems that no matter what we do to help our children succeed and be happy, it feels like we’re not quite there. So what do many of us do? We do more and more for our kids. It seems like the right thing to do, but… it never seems to be enough!
With parenting, as our children grow and develop it is important to accept the concept that less is more. From the moment a child is born, the parent’s responsibility is to help that child transition from child to adult. But if our parenting grip gets tighter and tighter, we inhibit our children’s healthy development. As they grow, successful parents give their children expanding room to grow. We need to let go!
We love our children, as a part of our family, they are a part of us. Letting go is difficult and can be painful at times. But it is precisely what our children need to thrive and succeed as adults. Like most pain we experience, the pain that emerges when we loosen the grip is only temporary. It is soon replaced with pride and love as we see our children flourish.
A camp experience such as WeHaKee Camp for Girls provides once such a way to let go, while still loving and caring for your child. When your child arrives at camp they face many challenges – fitting into a new community, making new friends, trying new and unusual things, eating different food. This can be disconcerting not only to the child but to the parent who has sent them off to this unfamiliar environment – “What have we done to our child?!!”. But there is a caveat – they will be in the company of amazing young adults who will guide them through this new territory, support them when they are anxious, lend a hand when they struggle, and celebrate when they succeed!
Who can this amazing individual be? Well, her camp counselor, of course. Michael Thompson, Ph.D., a psychologist, school, camp consultant and the author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow recently penned an article for the New York Times, describing the remarkable abilities of the camp counselor. In Why Camp Counselors Can Out-Parent Parents, Dr. Thompson shares his observations of the unique position camp counselors are in and why they can be so positively influential with the children they lead.
It is remarkable that college-age students with limited life experience can be so effective in helping our children not only learn to sail, kayak, ride horses, shoot arrows and build fires (safely!), but also help them build character, independence, responsibility, and confidence. It truly seems that they can out-parent the best of us, despite our superior knowledge and experience.
Well, it’s really quite simple… they’re way cooler! They are closer in age to our children which enhances their relatability, but they also are appealing role models that our children want so much to be like. As a result, the counselor has incredible power to encourage our children to clean up after themselves, to be nicer to each other, to not give up when it seems impossible, and to work together for the common good!
“There’s just no contest between parents and counselors.
The college students are vastly better looking than we are;
they are truly cool and they have dazzling skills.
When children need a summer filled with growth
and change (not to mention fun and glory),
I tell their parents to give camp a chance.”
Not to worry though, despite the seemingly other-worldly powers of the camp counselor, your children will come home to love you even more – absence does help the heart grow fonder! But you’re likely to also see them return home with a greater sense of responsibility, new found skills & interests, and deeper willingness to help you and others. And all you had to do to achieve this was… let go!
Have a wonderful and relaxing Mother’s Day and enjoy your week!