Teach your children well . . . Then let them go. Perhaps the hardest part of being a parent is realizing that eventually your children will go their own way and follow their own paths, no matter what you desire for them.
We all want our children to be healthy and live long, fulfilling lives. We want them to be kind, make the world a better place, make good decisions, and be happy. But what do we do when their lives don’t go the way we had hoped?
|2001–Camping in Lake Placid|
What if they make a bad decision, marry an abusive spouse, steal, take drugs, get cancer, or die? Can we control some of these actions? Maybe, maybe not. Are we responsible for what our children do or how they act? Are we to blame when our child is diagnosed with cancer? No and no. The fact that we cannot control our children’s lives can be terrifying. What can we control?
We can control our own actions and how we react to life, to them. We can teach our children the values we believe in. I know Luke and I taught our children to be giving, kind, compassionate, to value family and hard work. I know we taught them well when I saw how dignified Nick was during his cancer journey. Even when he was in pain, he was kind and compassionate to others. He was a scared 13-year-old boy acting like a brave man. I’m proud of him, because he chose to act that way. That’s who he is.
We taught Stephen the same values, and every parent knows that each child can be very unique. But Stephen continually proves that he is a young man of action who wants to make a difference and change his world. He is doing this in his own way, and he’s courageous to live without his brother and help other children with cancer.
Obviously I am not happy about Nick’s path. That dying so young may have been part of his journey, his soul’s lesson, doesn’t help when I miss hugging him, his laughter, or sharing our favorite books. I’m sad every day, then I’m grateful and happy to have Stephen and watch him grow. This is the life of a parent who has lost a child. The mix of emotions is often exhausting. But it’s the same with every parent who may be upset or devastated about the decisions their child has made or didn’t get to make.
Being a parent is an up and down roller coaster, no matter what the circumstances. Knowing that we have taught them well in preparation for their life journey, hopefully makes it easier to let them go. But not always.