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The Point Of Parenthood Is For Kids To Leave Us

Parenting And The Empty Nest

Have you ever thought what your purpose is a parent?  I mean really thought about the very big picture of parenthood – why is it necessary?  When it comes right down to it, our whole purpose in raising our kids is for them to leave our home.  That’s right, we have them so they can grow up and leave.  Sounds weird when you say it like that, huh?

When I did in-home therapy with high-risk families a decade ago, I told them right from the start that my main job was to work myself out of a job with them.  Ultimately, I was going to help them to a point that they didn’t need me anymore.  It sounds a little paradoxical, but really it makes sense.  The ideal state for a family is to be well functioning with good social supports around them.

The family counselor is there for a temporary function.  Likewise, the intense hands-on role of a parent when a child is generally eighteen and younger is meant to be a temporary stage.  When they are of age and are equipped to step out on their own, we have done our main job.  Yes, our children still need support and advice when they are a young adult, when they have their own kids, and so on.  But it’s not the same as when they are young and still living in your home.

It’s very normal to want kids because you want the fulfilling challenging experience of being a parent for yourself. That’s Mother Nature’s way of drawing you in to the bigger plan of procreation.  And the rewards are absolutely there – hugs and kisses, the heartfelt “thank you”, seeing your kids amazed by new experiences, being their rock when they feel down, etc.  But still – even with all of those perks, parenthood is about making this little person ready to leave you.

Sigh.  That catches my heart just putting the words down.  It really isn’t about me and my feelings.  My job wasn’t truly to have kids to make me feel better.  Those intense feelings are the reward for putting in the hard work to do the REAL job – raising decent dependable compassionate people to live on the planet.  And hopefully, our kids will outlive us as we hopefully outlive our parents.

If we have done things to make chaos and drama in our kids lives, made them pawns in an ugly divorce, shuffled them around between our romantic relationships with little regard to their needs, made them feel responsible to live our unfulfilled dreams and expectations, keep them weak and ill-equipped for life so we can feel powerful – if we have done any of these things, than we have not done our jobs.  Those are all things that wreck a kid’s life because they meet a parent’s need and disregard the child.  When we have taught them everything we know about being a great person and have helped them through their obstacles, we’ve done it right.

It’s bittersweet – both saddening and satisfying – that our whole purpose is to just have them a short while then let them loose.  How else would we be the adults we are today if our parents had done any less?  So while I know that I’ll be crying about back-to-college ads from Walmart for a lot of years, I also know that getting my kids out of the nest is ultimately my destiny.  I’ll have to buy stock in facial tissue, but I’ll know that I will have done my job well when my kids are ready to fly away.

The Point Of Parenthood Is For Kids To Leave Us


Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.


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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). The Point Of Parenthood Is For Kids To Leave Us. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 17, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/family/2009/08/the-point-of-parenthood-is-for-kids-to-leave-us/

 

Last updated: 26 Aug 2009
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