And know they love you.

Letting Go. Artist: Sue Kafka-Ellis

A self-proclaimed dispenser of wisdom, I recently shared a parenting thought with Louise over at I Choose Happy Now.  She wrote a post about sending her first-born off to Pre-K, and the tug on her heart as he reached this milestone.

I shared with her one of my favorite little pearls of parenting wisdom:  Roots and Wings.

The full quote, from Southern journalist and author Hodding Carter states “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” 

The roots part is what we usually think of as parenting.  Teaching them right from wrong, good manners, faith.   Giving them roots brings us closer to our kids, because it’s a time when we’re instilling in them values we want them to have, molding them into the people we want them to become.

The wings part is much harder.

There are the small steps.  Sending him off to Pre-K, wondering if he’ll be able to open his Ziploc bag at snack time.  The first day of second grade, wondering who she’ll eat lunch with.  Or the rite of independence The Caboose experienced last night: wandering the stadium with his friends at a football game while we sat vigil over the popcorn.

Then there are the big leaps.  Going on her first date.  Getting his driver’s license.  Going away to college.

My friend Stacy was the first to chant the “Roots and Wings” mantra to me back when The Trailblazer was in high school.  With her first-born a year older than mine, she shared with me her anxiety as her daughter left for college.  Assuring her that her baby girl was ready for the real world made me realize that I had to accept the same.  (I mean, if you can’t take your own advice, you’ve got no business dispensing it, right?)

One of the hardest lessons of parenting is realizing that our REAL job is to prepare them for their time without us.  Whether that time is 9 to 2 at preschool, four years at college, or the independent adult life they will someday live without us.  We’ve got to teach them well, and then let them go.

It’s all about Roots and Wings.


11 thoughts on “And know they love you.

  1. Pingback: Roots and Wings | The Lucky Mom

  2. Pingback: Massimo's First Day of School, Pre-K 4, and a Brave Face and Tears |

  3. JD

    My oldest daughter has a lovely framed print in her room that has silhouettes of children and that saying written on it. Love it. I am struggling with the “wings” as she is just in kindergarten now. But it’s still hard for me to think of her at school every day and I don’t know what’s going on, if someone’s being mean to her, if she is being kind to others, if she is happy … All I can hope is that we have given her good roots so far!

    1. The Lucky Mom Post author

      I was always surprised when my sons’ teachers told me how “good” they were in school. That’s where the wings show. When they behave the way you want them to with others, even if they don’t do so at home. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Heather Holbrook

    It must be the season for this lesson – I was just going to blog about the wings part a bit myself this evening. Thanks so much for the reminder of what we are working towards – independent adulthood (I’m really going to miss having them around! So happy I have a 8 or so years left!).

  5. Louise

    Lisha, I love this write up! When I read the portion about sending them of to college I got a little teary as I know time passes by so quickly. Roots and wings…I love it.

    Also, thank you for mentioning my blog.

    Cheers to one Lucky Mom!


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