Last month I wrote this little article for Business Insider about how I panicked over the summer and worried I hadn’t taught Caroline everything she needed to know before going to college. I was afraid she wouldn’t know the answers to every little thing in life.
The article describes a few of the crash courses on life skills I went over with Caroline during the summer, and ends by saying they were practically unnecessary, because she’s a smart, capable girl who clearly can figure things out on her own.
But what I realized after the article was published was Caroline didn’t need the crash courses and life lessons, because she’d been learning all along. Looking back, it’s the simple things in life that help raise resilient, independent adults. Take kids to the grocery store with you and they learn to look for mold on strawberries before picking out a pint or to check the date on milk. Take them to restaurants and let them order their own food. Give them chores around the house and they learn to load the dishwasher and run a vacuum.
Knowing all the answers is impossible.
I wanted Caroline to know everything she needed to before leaving home, to be prepared for life. But really, do any of us know all the answers?
What’s more important is that when she doesn’t know, she’s not afraid to ask. She can ask Google, ask a professor, ask her resident advisor, ask her grandpa …
Mistakes will be made.
After the article was published, my dad read it and added his two cents. He said it was missing something — how it’s important to let your kids make mistakes and learn from those experiences. Wise words from someone who has parented much longer than me.
It’s hard not to give advice, make judgements, and question the decisions of our adult children. But five months into this college chapter of parenting, one thing I have learned is that I love the feeling of pride I get when Caroline navigates the challenges of life successfully on her own.
Photo credit: Carter Alley, @doodlecraft1267