Roots and Wings

Hodding Carter in his book, When Main Street Meets the River, quotes a very wise woman who once said to him, “There are only two lasting bequests that we can hope to give our children—roots and wings.”


The conflicted relationship that exists between emerging adults and parents when it comes to making life decisions is real.  You feel betwixt either way:  If you don't follow your parent's advice, you face the possibility of making a mistake and risking their disappointment.  On the other hand, if you always seek and follow the advice of your parents, you never truly feel equipped and worthy of standing on your own two feet.  

Be clear about your own interests and curiosities, know where your strengths and gifts lie, and then discern if you are making choices in alignment with these.  The wisdom of knowing what is going on inside of you, and the ability to communicate the path you are navigating and the way that you are ultimately choosing to go, even if you are struggling to know if it is true for you and it differs from your parents desires, is a gift that you can give to both yourself and your parents. It is a way of educating and enlightening them on what you believe is best for you and why.  And if your parents are willing, they will hear you out and take time to understand and respect your process, even if it might deviate from theirs.  Knowing that you have a process, and understanding what that process is, can alleviate a lot of parental concern. 

So much of a parent's need to control and fix what seems to be going awry is the belief that you, the emerging adult, are not equipped to make a well-informed and risk-free decision.  But, here's the thing: Only until you have the trust and belief in yourself to make the small and significant life decisions, will you come to know yourself and understand what works for you and what doesn't.

As you have probably figured out, nothing is risk-free or a sure thing.  Whatever the outcome of a decision, you have the learnings along the way that give you good data points for future decisions. It gives you an ownership and responsibility that you would not have had you had your parents' hands been commandeering the decision.  With this personal ownership, comes investment, awareness, and maturity.  You can bet that the next time a decision presents itself, based on previous choices, you will be more informed as you choose your next path.  Regardless of what the decision entails, whether it be big things like: choosing a major, deciding on a school, picking a partner, securing a job, choosing a roommate - or smaller things like what to eat, when to study, and what extracurricular to sign up for, the more you have the breathing space to make your own decisions.  

Your parents give you roots and wings in this life, and with these roots, you can spread your wings and ultimately fly.  Job well done!  May you keep on showing up and choosing the next best thing. Baby steps. Your parents and I will be cheering you on along the way!  xox