Now that I am on the “other” side of parenting with children over the age of eighteen, one living on his own and the other one foot out the door, I have a whole different perspective on parenting. The seeds were planted with some wise advice when youngest son was in middle school. I was told to back off and let him be independent. That’s the nice way of putting it; actually, I was told that I was his problem and my hovering, manipulating and nagging were the cause of his anger and misbehavior. Ouch. That pierced my heart, but, the advice was exactly right. The proof is in youngest son’s maturity and good choices. I have learned to also let his older brother go his own way. For some reason, it is harder to let my first born be, perhaps because he has always been so compliant. We don’t even talk on the phone much anymore because I am so programmed to give advice that it is hard to find anything to talk about besides the weather. You can’t know how much I want to call and ask him if he’s had a flu shot! I say all this so you won’t think I am the perfect parent. I’ve made my share of mistakes, plenty of them and am still making them. Yet, now that I am on the other side, I find myself cringing when I hear others making those same errors. Three times in the last couple of weeks I have told a fellow parent my story and said, “Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Let your child assume responsibility for him or herself.” I know you can’t just let a three year old have free reign, but on the other hand, when they are thirteen or twenty three, you want them to be prepared for making some decisions for themselves, and it begins when they are three. I tell parents, the goal is to get them successfully launched from the nest! But, like most parents, I was only concerned about getting them out the door on time in the morning and homework done before bedtime. I can’t tell you how many times I ran back to school with missing lunches, permission slips, field trip money, and I am guilty of even doing their homework because it was easier. Easier on who? Me. Not them. Believe it or not, looking back, I wish I had let them fail more. There comes a time when you finally release the burdens that you’ve willingly picked up and borne for your child and put them squarely on your child’s back where they belong. It feels good. Scary, but good. Youngest son had an important test at fire academy last week. He told us several failed and were kicked out of the program. My stomach clinched at the news. What about him? He made a 90. He’s doing fine on his own, and he’s proud of himself as well he should be.