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My daughter is moving out in a week. And I can't help feeling like I failed her before she goes.


KiaApple
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She told us last Christmas she is moving out, and it's finally here. She'll be moving out next week.

Yes, it's only 30 minutes away. Yes, I know she is grown and the time has come.

It still hurts like hell. Everytime I see the boxes in her room I want to cry. I do cry. 

And I know this is most likely incredibly late. But I can't but help to feel regret about some of my parenting decisions in the past. 

I've scrolled the parenting subreddits on here for some time now, and after a lot of reading and reflection, I think I've been too protective of my daughter over the years.

This will be the first time she's stayed away from at home at all, and now her first time will be forever. When she was a kid, I always said no to sleepovers. Predators are often ones you end up trusting, and sending my child off to essentially a stranger's house never felt safe. I pretty much held this rule even when she turned 18 and after. In my view, the levels of safety didn't change just because her age did.

When her school had overnight trips, we went with her on them. She hasn't had any opportunities for travel as of late, but we did this until she was into her twenties.

Part of this was financially motivated, but she went to a college close to home so she could live at home during, otherwise, we would have moved with her if she went to an out-of-state college. We didn't allow her to date in high school, probably had too many rules for her in college. Now, she hasn't had a boyfriend yet, for which I am a bit thankful for since we've got to skip that whole messy world while she was here. But all that to say:

She is going into the world at 26 and starting it all for herself. I can't protect her anymore. I know I'm meant to step away. But now she's going into the world full frontal all at once. It's is hitting me hard. The fear, the anxiety, the sadness.

You spend 26 years protecting someone since they were in your arms and now they're gone. It's hard to step back and let go.

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Big hugs to you. That is what it takes to be a parent, brave also enough to let go. I am sure she knows how much she is loved and she is leaving or moving out on good terms with you and her father? 

She will be fine. Trust her and if she falters also trust that she’ll come back to the family if she needs help. You’re both moving onto the next chapter. 

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I believed I had parented successfully when my kids went out on their own.

My son left home at age 17 to go to college two states away. He was fine although he didn't like the school. He then changed colleges and lived on campus until he graduated. He is now married and has owned his own home since he was in his late 20s. Daughter is also out on her own and has been since she was very early 20s. Single young lady sharing digs with her friends. 

I married fairly young (22) and had gone away to college before I married. Again, I was fine.

We can't expect our children to sacrifice having their own lives just so we won't have to go through "missing" them. 

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As hard as it is, you need to let go. Yes maybe you shouldn't have restricted her freedom too much but it wasn't out of malice or controlling behaviour, it was out of love. 

Maybe compromise with her when she leaves on when she calls to check in? She needs to learn to be independent and to go out and enjoy life. She is only in her 20s once and she needs to go out there to learn her life lessons. 

Have you thought about extra support for yourself once she leaves? Therapy? Keeping yourself busy with friends and / or new hobbies?

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If she's only 30 minutes away, maybe when you offer her some pots and pans or bed linens and towels, you can throw in an offer for the use of your clothes washer and dryer?

That's how my Mom got me to make regular visits home.

Hang in there, Mama. You can do this!

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I would make this less about her moving out, and more about managing your own anxiety. 

At 26, she will be okay. Granted, she will probably be a little socially behind her peers because she hasn't really yet stretched her wings - but she needs to. She'll be 30 in a few short years and she has lacked some experiences others her age had years ago. It's time for her to catch up. She is too old for calls to check in, but if you have nurtured an otherwise good relationship, she will be naturally inclined to keep that going from a healthy distance.

But, you need to take care of you now. What do you do with your free time? What coping mechanisms do you have in place when your anxiety about her spikes, that don't involve trying to entice her home or calling her too much? Because I imagine you will have the urge to do both, but you need to find ways to self-soothe and address the underlying issue that have led you to hover over her too much and limit her independence until now. 

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4 hours ago, KiaApple said:

Part of this was financially motivated, but she went to a college close to home so she could live at home during, otherwise, we would have moved with her if she went to an out-of-state college.

Why? That is "overprotection". I feel college is a wonderful time for young people to experience the life on their own away from home. To see how it is living with somebody that isnt their family(if they have a roomate), to handle stuff like eating or cleaning on their own and to gain independence from home. It prepares them for later when they trully gain independence and need to do everything on their own. You will not be around forever. And your daughter is already a full adult that needs to experience what its like to be on her own. When she lives on her own or has her own family, she needs to be prepared for that.

Like this, you "overprotected" her. Thinking its better that she is at home because its "scary world" out there. Yes, it is scary sometimes. But she needs to experience it and knows how to handle it. Again, you wont be around to protect her forever. And she needs to be her own woman. So, let her go. She would be fine and she isnt even that far away from home. 

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I agree with the above....

I'm guessing she is your oldest ( so first born?) .  Not sure if she is an only child.

BUT, I've been there.. learning to 'let go'.  We need to and is explained above.

They NEED to learn how it is out there. They need to experience life outside the parents home and guidance. ( How was it for you?  Did you live at home until that age?).

I moved out right before I turned 18.  And my oldest left home for college by age 19. An hour away and I saw him a cpl times a year.

I suggest you do not blow up her phone every day and let her reach out more to you - should she need to. - It will be a big change for all of you. ( change like this often is..).

I will also inform you that slowly, she may just start distancing herself from you guys more once she realizes her 'freedom'.  She will most likely be making friends, hanging out here & there and YOU have to accept this.. sorry 😕 .

I do hope she is aware of banking responsibilities, etc.  How to cook & clean?

So, with all of this happening now for her ( and you), I say tis about time! 😉 

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7 hours ago, KiaApple said:

I've scrolled the parenting subreddits on here for some time now, . The fear, the anxiety, the sadness.

The best thing you can do for yourself and her is see a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health. Ask for a referral to a qualified therapist for ongoing support. 

At some level you realize this overprotective stance was driven by your anxiety and eventually you'll have to address that.

Once you treat your physical and mental health issues, it's important to have a life of your own.

Do you and your husband both work? If you don't it's time to look into working, joining some groups and clubs, volunteering getting involved in sports and fitness, taking some classes and courses.

It's unfair to expect a child to fulfil all your needs or to fill voids in your life or marriage.

Suffocating and stunting a child is unhealthy. 

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Overprotecting isn’t good parenting and often a reaction to anxiety.  I am guilty of it too at times and I do my utmost to listen to my husband who doesn’t tend that way like I do. Our son is 13.  
I get the struggle especially given the pandemic and virtual schooling etc. I lived at home during college. And grad school. Partly financial. My parents would have been fine with my moving out. I went to sleepaway camp for years and on a 10 hour flight with a teen tour when I was 15 - my first plane flight.  
I will tell you this. I moved out after grad school. Also 30 minutes away. I was 28. It did wonders for me personally and had a hugely positive impact on my relationship with my parents. I remember they took me shopping that first day for supplies which was so nice.

I bounced my first rent check with my brand new checking account. Not because I was broke. Because I was so clueless about transferring $ between accounts.  Life lesson. 

my son will go on his first overnight trip without us this year. He recently went with a friend to get ice cream - fifteen minutes walk - with no parents. He was scheduled to go on an overnight trip in 2020 but of course it was cancelled due to Covid.
 

But I do not let him walk to school or home on his own because of the crime rate in our city. And the vast number of scooters and cyclists in the park he walks across who just don’t care about watching out for pedestrians. It’s a balance. Please let her spread her wings. It’s part of good parenting as is putting on our game face when we’re nervous inside.

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As my sons approached adulthood, I just assumed that when they actually moved out it couldn't be much different.  They were working, driving and sometimes I only knew they had been home because  there were dirty towels on the bathroom floor.  How could it be any different when they actually moved out?

I was a mess each time.  It caught me really off guard.  What you are feeling is normal.  It really feels like grieving a loss.  Don't fight it, just move through it.

My oldest moved home twice for work related reasons.  The first time he moved home, he was my sidekick.  Movies, dinner, Netflix and when it was time for him to return to the apartment he sublet, I went through the loss all over again.  2 years later he asked to move home again while going through an academy and a one year probation.  This time I was sort of a weirdo, avoiding him or at least knowing that I couldn't get all attached to him all over again.  He sensed I was keeping my distance and I told him why.  Luckily he was so busy for the year and half, when he had to leave again it wasn't as bad.  

It's ok Mom.  Be kind to yourself.  I always say that raising children is sort of ironic.  If they become independent and want to get away from us we've done a good job.

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As long as you've forewarned her regarding the dangers out there in the world, there is nothing else you can do.  Her job is to instill common safety sense into herself.  She's a grown adult now and she's responsible for her own life.

Common tips are the following:  Date rape, date rape odorless / tasteless powders sprinkled in beverages, being alone with a man or men whom you thought you could trust, walking alone in dark carports, stairwells, parking structures, trails, running errands after sundown and walking out alone everywhere and basically never placing herself at the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong people.  Being too much of a free spirit often times ends in preventable tragedy. 

Congratulations!  This what we raise our children for!  They're supposed to leave the nest by flying away!  🐦  She's financially independent!  If I were you, I'd celebrate and kick my heels with giddy delight!  I'd do a jig and throw a party!  No moping for me.  Think of it as freedom at last!  Suddenly you'll have a lot of extra time on your hands.  😊

Count your blessings.  She's only 30 minutes away.  It's not as if she's moving across the country.  She's still conveniently close.  Thank your lucky stars for that.  Millions of people have to expensively travel far and wide in order to see each other once a year if they can afford it.   Not everyone can afford long distance travel by car, bus, train or airplane.  They either can't afford it, can't afford to take time off or both.   Consider yourself fortunate.

 

 

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We started talking to our son when he was around 4 about dealing with the outside world/stranger danger.  When he was around 5 we watched -a couple of times -a video by John Walsh with "safety stranger chick" who shows kids how to behave/react in all sorts of situations where someone might invade their personal space, speak to them inappropriately, etc.  And just in daily life -he's 13 -he sees how I interact with people and he has seen me go all Mama Bear on public transportation or just walking along with people who treat me and/or him inappropriately. 

I'm sure you've done that OP or similar so this is just part of a continuing conversation and she should know she can come to you for advice when she gets that spidey sense of something not being right where she lives, maybe with a neighbor, a maintenance person, parties that might go on, etc.

And practical stuff like making sure she always has her keys, has them ready if it's late when she gets home, etc.  Good luck!!

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Feeling like a failure, mum? This i...
Feeling like a failure, mum? This is what you need to hear

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