I have been thinking alot this week about family. I have been thinking about the family we create, get born into and the family want. These sometimes are not all the same thing!
As of this posting, we all know that Kanye West is breaking with reality…again. We know, and see, that he is off his meds…again. We see his wife trying to hold things together, for her sake as well as her children…again.
I wish God’s best for her with that.
It is from that perspective that I come you, dear Torches. My oldest daughter struggles with anxiety. She sees a counselor, takes melatonin to sleep, and sometimes, she has what I call ‘storms.’ In these ‘storms’ she worries about things that are either so far out they will not happen, or things that she has no control over. With the raging of COVID-19, and the onset of middle school, and her own hormones, she felt like everything was just running over her like a freight train! But during this last ‘storm’, she cried on me and told me this.
“Mama, I don’t want you to put me out.” I asked her, “What makes you think I’ll put you out.” Through tears, she said, “When I turn 18.” All I could do was hold her as she cried. My baby is 12, 13 in September. She is so far form adulthood right now, but yet it is so close! It took me back to being 15, 16 and knowing that at 18 I thought I had to leave my mother’s house that NIGHT I turned 18. Yet, it was my mother, who assuaged that fear by telling me I could stay with her as long as I went to school or worked. Yet, that fear persistsed and I left home at 18 to college. Only to return a year later.
What am I saying?
I am saying we have to assess the needs of our children. We have to meet them where they are and be prepared for what they tell us! The fact that my child was this nervous about something as important as turning 18 made me realize that I need to equip her as best I can to be the best adult she can be! Moreover, I cannot be so anxious to have an ‘Empty Nest’ that I do more harm that good to them.
I know we as a people can’t wait to have ‘our lives back’ and ‘all the kids gone’. I get that! But this here? The anxiety I saw in her face, made me halt. It made me think about how common it is to just ‘put kids out’. Don’t even let me get started about if the kids are in any way gay/queer! It is a basic need for people to feel safe and secure.
Granted, there are children–soon to be young adults–that begin to get their plan to leave the house together when they are Sophomores in high school! I knew a few! But there are some that don’t, and haven’t been able to put such a plan in motion because of anxiety or just not having the resources available to plan!
Again, I get it. Raising kids is hard. Raising children can be thankless, crazy-making and will make you doubt your own sanity. But I am reminded of the quote my grandmother said about children:
“When they are young they step all over your lap. When they get grown, they step on your heart.”
I get that, Nana. I promise I do.
What I want us to do, and start doing better, is to listen to our kids! We are their first—and sometimes only—like of defense in a world that wants to kill and devour them! We need to be able to tell them what they need to know to move in the world, but also set exceptions for them. In those expectations, we have to remember that every child is different—and be attentive to those needs. We must! We must begin to understand their anxieties in order to diffuse them!
There should never be a child SCARED that they parents will put them out because of their age. This is within reason and circumstance, of course. But let’s begin to think about this. Really think about it. Some of our kids just need more time, more support, and more help. Some just aren’t ready to launch right at 18! Stop making that the end all be all number!
And while we are here, if your child comes out to you, your first response should not be to put them out! It should no be to shun them, disown them, or snatch the only home they know from under them! Don’t through God int hat either! God throws no one away, so don’t make it a habit to do your child whom is non-gender conforming/non-binary or LGBTQIA away! Stop taking safety from kids because of how you feel about what they are/are not doing! Parenthood is always going to be dynamic! There will always be a need! But for the sake of our kids, let them still have home to come back to–rather than a place to be put out of.
Let there always be a key under the mat. The world is a dangerous place.