I remember as a child how protective my parents were over the relationships I established. They wanted to know my friends, the parents of my friends, the friends surrounding those friends, and anything else to feel like I would be making good judgment calls. They didn’t have a problem with me spending the weekends over certain friends houses. I believe as a result they helped me with the tools necessary to develop a sense of street smarts to go along with the academic abilities I naturally had.
It wasn’t anything for me to deejay a dance on a Friday night, go to a bowling tournament on a Saturday and then go with another friend to the drive in movie theater on a Saturday night into Sunday. I learned a lot about happiness, how siblings struggle to get along just as much as I had with my older brother, and what it takes to make a relationship last a lifetime. Being shy allowed me to observe and use my ears to pay attention to subtle non-verbal signs that helped me gain a better understanding of human nature.
Do I wish I could go back and take more risks as a child? Certainly. I think I was terrible at picking up cues of interest from females. Although I developed many great relationships with females as friends, I didn’t have much confidence in knowing what it would take to develop a romantic relationship. I would doubt myself and read into things that weren’t true. It’s easier to put yourself down and convince yourself that people don’t like you than it is to take a who cares attitude into every encounter.
What would this have to do with my daughters you may ask? I struggle with letting go. I know as they get older I need to give them the strength and confidence to fly free. I want them to have successful relationships, I want them to develop great, appropriate friendships and I hope they get the best in life that they deserve. Yet I know that I have to let them make mistakes and learn from them. I can’t save their decision making all the time, I can’t hold their hand at school and I know that there will be times that their judgment is tested.
Maybe it’s the father in me that wants the girls to know that you deserve to have a guy who will love you for the total person that you are. I don’t want them to settle for less than they deserve. They can lead a successful life and it’s perfectly acceptable to date around until they find the person that will make their life even stronger and better than imaginable.
I want them to know how wonderful they are and how much I appreciate the love, effort, kindness, happiness and joy they bring to my life. My oldest has been thinking more often about the friends she surrounds herself with, and I believe as a result she knows she needs people who will elevate her, not tear her down to the dirt. I can only hope my youngest will take this same effort as she gets older, but I know it will be a challenge for her to get close without getting fearful based on her past trauma.
So don’t freak out as your children want to spend more time in the outside world than within the confines of your home. Train them well, keep the communication lines open and they will enjoy the changing dynamics of your ever evolving relationship.