Parenting Post – Linda Marten MSW

roots-and-wings“The two things we can give our children are Roots and Wings.” Jonas Salk

What does it mean to give both “roots” and “wings” to our children?
Aren’t these opposites?

When children are little, parents are busy putting down roots, building a foundation, a structure of daily routines, limits, love and guidance. It takes an enormous amount of daily effort to nurture and grow strong roots for a healthy home and family life.

If you grew up with lots of family “roots”, it’s easy to take it for granted. However, kids that don’t get this foundation of roots have a much harder time flying on their own later in life. They can grow up too dependent and never able to take responsibility for themselves, or defiant and angry because they were not adequately protected from abandonment and abuse as a child.

Most mothers are very good at giving their children the roots of home, nourishing food, protection and tender loving care so that their babies can grow and thrive. Mother Nature made sure the young would survive.
However, as the children get older, the caring (often hovering) mother who once helped them survive and thrive, now may be the one hindering their growth and development by doing too much for them.

This is where fathers/men can help. Most men intuitively understand the need for independence and will often be the one to encourage their children to do things for themselves without their mother’s help. If a mother allows this to happen, oftentimes the child discovers and develops a strength and independence they didn’t know they had. These experiences that push a child a little beyond their comfort zone, can build confidence and self-esteem that praise alone could never do.
I recall our young children exclaiming with pride, “Mom, look! I did it all by myself!”

But, again, it’s all about balance.
Parents are forever holding on and letting go, over and over until their young are finally ready to fly on their own.
Be grateful they can fly, because you gave them “roots and wings.”

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The Actors' Gang

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