As I sat in the enormous, university auditorium I looked around at the other freshmen parents and couldn’t help but wonder why we were there. I had already been to college and earned my degree. This rite of passage was now my daughter’s, right? But there we all were at DAY ONE of our adult child’s’ college orientation. I have always had a love for learning, but this class didn’t feel quite right.

Then the hands went up asking the orientation administrator things like, “what should my child do if they don’t get along with their roommate?” I became increasingly uncomfortable as the discussion seemed more like an empty- nester support group. After reviewing the agenda and sitting through the first open discussion, I did what I told my children to never do: I skipped class. While playing hooky, I enjoyed two peaceful days to walk around campus and pray for my daughter and her fellow students.

If my adult daughter was old enough to move away and attend college wasn’t she old enough to navigate college classes, purchase books, and work things out with her roommate? If she couldn’t google it, I’m sure the college would “have an app for that”!

My parents weren’t invited to a two-day, college orientation retreat when I went away to school. I had to navigate it on my own and without a cell phone! However, grown and flown today looks very different from when I grew up. My parents didn’t spend hours assisting me (or doing!) my science fair project nor did they help write my college entrance essays and applications. Parents parent differently now. Times have changed, and it starts in preschool.

Preschool teachers are encouraged to keep their hands behind their backs when their students are creating a masterpiece. This allows the work to be the students. As hard as it can be for a parent, stepping back and allowing your child to establish independence in the little things now translates to the big things later. It may be as simple as letting them choose what to wear to school, having them carry their own backpack and putting away all their personal items in their cubby. These little things build upon themselves and contribute to a more confident child.

I can still remember one fall day when our household was buzzing with busyness. It was the season of soccer insanity. It seemed liked all I did was chauffeur my three kiddos all over town from one soccer practice or game to the next. I was about to prepare dinner when I found my youngest in the kitchen eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He saw the surprised look on my face and with a mouth full of bread tried to explain, “I didn’t have lunch.” He was hungry, so he made himself a sandwich…at three years old. To this day, my baby is the most independent of my four children, simply because he learned to do things on his own.

Letting go is one of the hardest things a parent must learn to do. I wish I could say it gets easier, but I don’t think it does. It takes courage and faith in the One who designed our precious children. And when we stand back and observe, we can see God putting the special touches on His masterpiece.

~Amy Olthouse, Preschool Director