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Teens Moving Out? Remembering We Raise Kids to Leave

Did you ever read the kid’s book, The Runaway Bunny? When my teenagers were little I thought it was about letting them know that I would protect them no matter where they went. But now that my kids are older and I am getting closer to the days when I face my teens moving out, I think it is about staying connected when they leave. How can I stay a part of their lives after my teenagers move out?

I’ve quoted Carole King to my teens, “Where you lead, I will follow.” They can’t escape me. I intend to rent an apartment or condo right across the street—no matter where they move. I promised them.

My kids brought up the obvious. “What if Emily and I live really far away from each other, then what are you going to do?” Evan asked.

“Well, yes it will be more expensive, but Daddy and I will just have to sell our house and rent in two different places and divide our time between the two of you.”

One friend told me that I shouldn’t say this to my kids. “You don’t own your kids, you know. They are on loan to you for 18 years and then they move on. You can only hope that the lessons you’ve taught them will stay with them. And then you have to let go.”

Hah! Easy for her to say. She doesn’t have kids. She’ll never experience teens moving out.

Then there are a few parents who are thrilled finally to have their teen moving out. One friend of mine can’t wait for her daughter to leave for college this fall. “You can act brave because you still have a much younger kid at home,” I told her.

And my yoga teacher warned, “The tighter you try to hold on, the more they will want to leave. You have to let the butterfly go free and then it will fly back to you.”

Yeah, right. She can say that because her daughter is only nine years old.

Let’s see how all these people talk when their last kid is about to fly the coop. I didn’t have to worry about my first one. He is at the state school, an hour and a half from our house. He likes our town and he likes the house and I’m pretty sure he won’t be moving halfway across the country after college, though you never know for sure.

It’s Emily I’m worried about. She’s talking about going to college 12 hours away from here. My parents drew a five-hour radius for college options. I could draw whatever I want. This red headed teenage daughter of mine will go where she wants. Since she was little, we’ve had a family motto, “What Emily Wants, Emily Gets.” So now I’m picturing her a plane ride away with infrequent visits.

I wonder if she’ll miss me. Who am I kidding? She is going to love the freedom.

My poor dog, I’m going to baby him forever. Finally I have someone around who won’t leave the nest—and he actually seems to want to stay.

Valerie Newman lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids. When Valerie started mixing up her kid’s college applications with her mother’s nursing home applications, she knew she was part of the sandwich generation.

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