Secrets of Healthy Separation
North Scottsdale Independent Newspapers
By Cathianne Werner
Life Coach, Shirley Catanzaro offers parents advice on how to ease the pain of their child's departure from the nest.
The time surrounding graduation from high school marks an end as well as a beginning. For students, it’s the end of high school life and the beginning of adult independence. For parents, it marks the end of their supervisory role and the beginning of their child’s departure form the nest. Depending on the emotional dynamics that make up the family, this period of time can be sad, angry, painfully quiet, explosive, guilt-filled or fulfilling. According to North Scottsdale resident and life coach Shirley Catanzaro, with the right tools, the experience can be fulfilling for every child and parent.
Ms. Catanzaro works as a life coach. She coaches adults and children through difficult and transitional periods in their lives. She helps people overcome issues of the past that have kept them from moving forward in life. Shirley says leaving home is a life event that can be transitioned into easily if both the child and the parents can practice one simple principal. “Finish your business with your children,” Ms. Catanzaro said. She believes “finishing your business” begins with forgiveness. “How do you tell your child you are sorry for a secret that you kept,” she said. “Maybe when you were raising them there were things that happened like abuse of words. Sometimes we demean our children, but we don’t know how to say to our children ‘forgive me.” She added that while all parents want to make life better for their children than it was for them, some parents are carrying baggage from their own childhood that holds them back from being the best and most effective parents they can be. “If you are holding on to anything, you need to clear it,” she said. Letting your children clear their issues is just as essential.
“Don’t be afraid to let your children tell you their truths. Some of them may feel injured by the minutest thing and another one may laugh at it. But, it’s how it affects us as children and young adults. If we are not able to finish that business we are in therapy at 40 and 50 years old trying to tell a therapist what happened when we were young.” Ms. Catanzaro said if children can talk to their parents and parents are willing to listen, when a child leaves to go to school or begin their adult life, the parents and children will feel a sense of liberation.
Parents must also remember that they do not own their children. “So often we feel ownership,” she said. “We don’t own anything. They come through us and our job is to do the best we can as parents.” The unarguable fact that all people are different is important to remember when you are communicating with your children. Each person may hold a different definition of what love is. One parent may be emotionally and physically demonstrative, offering love to their child in the form of hugs and emotional support. The other parent may view love as providing for their children.
“Sometimes we may not feel our parents love us because they don’t hug us,” she said. “If we are going off to college, or out into the world, we have this conception. Then when we get with somebody, we want
them to love us. We want everybody in our lives to see the way we see, through our eyes, and we can’t.” Ms. Catanzaro believes if we can talk to our children and recognize them as individuals, ask them for forgiveness for our faults and trust that we have communicated values to them, a guilt-free, anger-free separation is possible.
“If we can finish our business with our children, we can let go of the guilt,” Ms. Catanzaro said. “We don’t have to say ‘I forgot to do this or I should have done that.’” In a healthy situation, if a parent is secure in their role, they should be proud that they brought their child to a point where they are ready to take on the world. She said this attitude about raising children “gives them wings.”
Ms. Catanzaro raised six children of her own. She said when it was time for her children to strike out on their own she gave them wings. “As a parent we are the bow from which their arrows are
sprung,” (a quote from The Prophet by Kahil Gibran) she said. “If you can say to your child that you trust that they can go our there and do it, imagine what they can become.” Ms. Catanzaro can’t promise a solution for making the event less sad. She said there will always be sadness in separation, but the parents can cut the umbilical cord and still leave a strand of love between themselves and their
Tips to make leaving the nest a healthy experience
Finish your business with your children
Tell your children your truths and listen
to them when they tell you theirs
Don’t offer advice. Ask for permission to make suggestions
Don’t expect you child to see the world through your eyes
Give your child wings
Cut the umbilical cord
Leave a strand of love between you and your child
Allow your children to find themselves
Trust in your child’s values
Teach your children to honor themselves
Leave nothing unsaid
Don’t respond to your children out of guilt
Show your child respect
Source: Shirley Catanzaro
Photos by Cathianne Werner/Independent Newspapers
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