Let go - and enjoy their return

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files

Families around the country are preparing for the big move - teenagers off to tertiary study or work in another town, writes Ian Munro.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro
At times, we've probably longed for the day when we see the back of them but, when the time actually comes, we aren't always looking forward to it. It's hard enough when it's the first of the brood and can be even harder when it's the last.

It's often mothers we think about when we talk about empty nest syndrome, however, fathers are no less prone to this, particularly in relation to daughters.

A father can get used to being the only man in his daughter's life, struggling with her choice of boyfriends and worrying about her personal safety. Then she's gone. Suddenly, Dad is a bit player; usually a much-loved bit player, but a bit player none-the-less.

It's a loss and there's grief to be worked through. There's also something else that fathers often have to face that mothers don't - the regret at how quickly time has gone by.

All the things you thought you would do and share with your children, the relationships you expected to have and now it's too late. You've been so busy out there earning a living or to make their life better and yet, to a kid, making life better might actually have been seeing more of Dad.

When we really care for our children it's hard to see them go, especially if we feel there's unfinished business. But they don't wait around for us to make the time. Their movement from baby to adult is a relentless biological march.

Equally, if we've been very involved with our children, it's not regret that causes the pain but having to let go of something we love and cherish. And yet that's exactly what we've been working towards since the day they were born.

I've seen raising children likened to flying a kite on an almost windless day. Mum and Dad struggle to get it off the ground, it bounces around a bit and looks as if it won't make it, then suddenly a small breeze lifts it.

Now it's in danger of getting tangled in trees and power wires. You both struggle to keep it clear without letting it drop to the ground, then a gust catches it and it's tugging trying to get higher, pulling and twisting and you're trying to keep it under control.

Eventually, the string slips through your fingers and all you can do is watch it soar into the sky and admire your handiwork.

However, there's one difference - the children, unlike the kite, return and you begin to enjoy a new sort of relationship.


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