SOUCHERAY: Kids need roots and wings to grow, learnThe common adage of giving our children roots and wings, particularly at the time of year when all sorts of graduations occur, is prolifically proposed.
By: Kate Soucheray, Woodbury Bulletin
The common adage of giving our children roots and wings, particularly at the time of year when all sorts of graduations occur, is prolifically proposed. Whether our child is graduating from pre-school, middle school, senior high, college, graduate school or medical school, we read or hear this admonition to provide the stability of roots and the permission to fly with wings like eagles. This seems like a very tall order to fulfill, particularly when parents have other children, elderly parents to assist, as well as careers to maneuver and manage. How do we provide roots and wings?
Providing roots and wings may seem like an oxymoron at the least and an impossibility at the most. How does a family offer its young people a sense of groundedness, as well as the freedom to discover his or her innermost desires? It seems this lies in our ability as the parents to understand what is most important to us as a family and then to adequately convey this to our children.
We were blessed last week to have our married daughter come home for a few days while her husband was on a school trip with his class. She moved back in to her old room, complete with their cat! But that’s another story. Our older son was off from work that day and our youngest son, who is home from college for the summer, all gathered in the kitchen just as I had gotten home from work.
“What’s for supper?” was the question posed to me by all three of them as I walked in and set down my purse and bag. This hearty bunch would need a quick and filling meal before the boys headed out to play in their softball league, so a quickly put together meal of spaghetti and meatballs, with breadsticks and salad rounded out a nutritious and satisfying dinner.
As we ate at the kitchen counter, where the three of them sat when they were young, I was struck by how much they had all grown, but also by how connected they were to each other, in spite of the adventures each was experiencing in life. The kitchen counter and the meal seemed to provide a sense of roots for them.
The family home and the predictable family supper had once again come to the fore. The meal fare of spaghetti was filling and nourishing, providing them with sustenance to meet the challenges they would face that evening. That simple encounter with each other, sharing a meal and laughing together, seemed to provide the wings for them, as well.
That sense of predictability and accountability, however boring and unexciting it might appear is what actually what allows the wings to grow. For without the knowledge that they can count on the stability that someone is in charge and knows what to do to give them nourishment, a child – no matter the age – will continue to seek to know that all is well.
A child, again no matter the age, benefits from his or her parents providing the stability of what is needed next. Whether that child is graduating from preschool and needs a nap or a senior graduating from high school and heading off to college in a few months and needs the car keys, it is for us as the parents to recognize those needs and accommodate them to the best of our ability.
This requires that we are in the game with our children as fully as possible, that we are paying attention to their needs, as well as listening to our own wisdom, and doing what we can to provide the best for our children.
This is truly the art of parenting. It is where the creative, interesting and enriching experiences lie for us. It is also here that we are able to provide the roots and wings for our children. And just like our brood returning home for a serendipitous meal of spaghetti and meatballs last week, we have to be light on our feet, expect the unexpected and be ready to offer what is needed most at that moment.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident.