Leaving home is part of growing up

Maureen Kennedy
Maureen Kennedy
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This is the time of year when many teenagers are leaving home either to pursue further education or to start work.

I know some parents - mums in particular - who present all sorts of obstacles to their kids leaving home. One mum I know decided her son wasn’t ready for university so persuaded him to wait a year. Truth was, I don’t think she was ready. She raised all sorts of objections like he had no self discipline when it came to doing his homework, wouldn’t think to change his shirt or clean his teeth without being prompted.

I think there is nothing like throwing someone in at the deep end to learn discipline. And there will no more effective call to action on the hygiene front than mates or a prospective girlfriend telling him he needs to sort himself out.

Of course it’s hard to see your beloved children flee the nest, especially if they are an only child and its just the parents left. Sometimes the older child can leave without too much stress but the ‘baby’ can be traumatic. But it’s also true that their leaving home can make all the difference to your relationship going forward.

A stroppy teenager who didn’t like living by parental rules will almost certainly come home a changed person. They have their freedom so no more need to rebel against the parents. New, mature relationships blossom. Socialising will be done WITH the parents rather than as means of escape from them.

One mum I know broke her heart when her son left for university 200 miles away. But three weeks later he was home with a suitcase full of dirty washing but she didn’t care! They had a great weekend and it still remains to be seen whether he really didn’t have a clue how to deal with his laundry or he was homesick.

It’s not always just the parents who suffer. A child who has been waited on hand and foot and has been happy living at home can find it very hard even though the perception is that they are having a great time out in the real world.

Leaving home is an inevitable part of growing up. These days, phones and Skype enable more immediate and more intimate communication than in years gone by. And, when you do meet, the time spent together, which you might previously have taken for granted, becomes special and hopefully more enjoyable.