Working Together On Life's Issues

Our Children are Growing Up!

You must be the change that you wish to see in the world. - Ghandi

Our Children are Growing Up!

It is a Saturday morning. The time is 5:23. We have just received a phone call from my oldest son who is about to leave for a training seminar in New York--alone. His voice sounds wide-awake, as I rub the sleep from my eyes. I am not sure why my first question does not concern his health or well being. He is excited, and yes, a wee bit anxious. I hear my husband’s groggy voice on the other line. “Have a wonderful trip.” He falls back asleep, while I, on the other hand, have a thousand thoughts.

The Freedman household is indeed going through some changes. Here is our firstborn leaving on his first trip without a friend or family member tagging along. This is a big growing step for him. He has been up half the night thinking about all of the marvelous sights he will see, and perhaps a bit worried about his new training. He has already voiced several concerns mainly regarding his readiness. I gently have reminded him that his company would not be sending him this far from home if they did not have the utmost confidence in his abilities. “You’re ready to go and take on the ‘Big Apple.’” Oh to be young. His fellow cohorts have given him their business cards in case he needs anything. He is one of the youngest employees at this business. It is nice to have a support system outside of the family.

On the flip side of this picture, our youngest son has just experienced his first college orientation. He left on a Tuesday—by himself as well. I exclaimed to my husband that this is the first time that we did not accompany him to set things up, unpack his suitcase, and arrange his bed. Like his oldest brother, he too was excited and a tad nervous. He was joined by 400 other freshmen for a rushed three days of getting to know his university. We were allowed to join him on the third day for parent orientation. He looked clean, well fed, and somewhat dazed. Trying to set up a college schedule can be tantamount to filing your first tax return—downright bewildering. It also shoves in his face the notion of “so, what do you want to be when you grow up?” The world is his oyster and also his smorgasbord.

Our third son is having the time of his life working at his university’s family camp as a counselor to the alumni’s children. It is like the movie, “Dirty Dancing,” for his entire summer. Some work!
I smile as I think of how they are growing up. Each new life cycle stage has its trepidation and joys. Right now, they are in what renowned psychologist Erik Erikson defines as the stage of development termed “identity versus role confusion.” The concern is with one’s appearance in the eyes of others as compared with self-perceptions. It also questions how to connect the roles and skills previously learned with the current occupational prototypes. In other words, my sons are “finding themselves.”

In order for a child to develop a strong sense of self, he or she must have a sense of belonging to family and community. It is the validation from his or her support system that acts to buoy them in their quest.
My eldest son is on his way to a new adventure. He tells me there are thunder showers but the weather promises to clear up. He has brought along several pairs of shoes, a rain jacket and an umbrella—just in case. What an interesting metaphor for how he is feeling at this time and in this phase of his development. He is clearly prepared.