The kids are inevitably growing up. I have loved watching it each day. Their development fascinates me. Ok, so sometimes it makes me scream and want to throw stuff in frustration, but mostly it fascinates.
A real truth is that the older your oldest gets, the more you realize they have to learn to start breaking away with their friends and becoming their own person rather than a family unit member. not that family isn't important. Our family is with us always. We will most likely see them on holidays if not more often, for the rest of our lives. But once we are grown, we each should be ready to be married, develop careers, become parents...and our kids rapidly move toward that. It really hits home when they turn 13 for me. I realize that in 5 years they have to be independent people.
While they were all young I had them as a family unit most of the time, and they played together daily. Where one went, we all went. Not all the time, mind you, but I reinforced family togetherness often. But to require always being with family...it just isn't healthy, or fair to them. It gets really awkward when they become teens, if not before. Continuing to move as a unit and stick only with family members, in my opinion, really hinders development toward independence and outside relationships. I don't want that for my kids.
I know when kids are really young, like under age 10, they do better moving with family units --most of the time, (and I did that, often for convenience), but I want my kids to know that they should have their own friends, they need them, and to be able to interact well socially, apart from parents and their siblings. Siblings should never expect that because brother or sister gets to go here or hang out with this group, or do this activity, it is appropriate for them to be there too. That goes for always being in the care of their own parents too. As a parent I am also someone's wife who wants time away with my husband. I am a woman with my own interests that don't always involve them, and one day it will be just me and husband again. I won't be mom all the time anymore. And my kids need to understand that my life involves raising them to be independent humans that can make their own life in the world, not wrapping myself up in their every need. Our world should never revolve totally around the kids, and they need to know that. They fit into our life. Then they find their own life.
We are blessed to have a large group of friends who get their kids together regularly for social time and learning time, with distanced parental supervision. They are all comfy interacting with each other, and the adults alike, but mainly amongst themselves. Our church youth group is similar. I never have to worry about where my kids will go or if they will be well supervised when they are with our youth minister. He is great at appropriate supervision and fostering them toward independence. It starts when they are 12, and it has been excellent for my kids. Our older ones are still very close to family, but they are branching out very well. I don't have worries about my oldest two entering the adult world. (The youngest three are works in progress ;) ) They know how to be sociable and work hard and choose right paths.
I often pray for some of my friends whose kids don't seem to do well without all the siblings present. They almost always move as a unit--even though some have kids close to teen years and some already have teens. If the family can't all go, no one goes. I wonder how the ones who leave home first (if they go) will be able to form appropriate outside relationships for marriage or workplace. 18 is an awfully late age to start getting used to being apart, to learn how to fit in to your own social setting. I just pray for them. But it is their choice of how to raise their kids into adults.
It is hard to walk that line of protecting/sheltering, and letting go, as a parent.
It caused me many tears, and I am sure there will be many more to come, but watching our kids grow and become wonderful, well adjusted, faithful, Christian adults with careers and marriages and families will be so rewarding! Each season has its many blessings.