My 12-year old daughter is away from home for the first time.  She is at “girls camp” with other young women from our stake.

As the time approached for her to leave, I could tell that she was nervous, and we tried to reassure her.  I thought that she would be busy and would have fun and wouldn’t be as homesick as my son was 2 years ago when he went to scout camp for the first time.

I was wrong.  One of the leaders called last night and had me talk to her.  She bawled.  I think part of the emotion is driven by sleep deprivation as I imagine that no one gets enough rest in a crowded tent with a few dozen young women.  But it broke my heart to hear her cry and to not be able to console her.

I have learned some things from this experience.  I have learned how much I love my daughter and that I don’t want to be apart from her.  But I have also learned that part of the growing process for both parent and child requires the two to be apart at times.  Both the parent and child need to learn that the child can succeed in the absence of the parent.

In fact, I believe the success of a parent is largely determined by how well the child is prepared for adulthood (when he/she reaches that age)- to be an independent, contributing part of society.  

While other girls at the camp may have also been homesick, I wonder how I unwittingly may have contributed to my daughter’s troubles.  I wonder if in my insecurity and need to feel loved that I allow and perhaps even encourage her dependency on me when I should be encouraging her to become more and more independent.  Logically, I know that the parent/child bond is inseparable by time and distance, but perhaps I still fear losing that bond.

Well, she’ll be back tomorrow, and I am anxious to see her and to hear all about her camp, and I’ll have to begin making a greater effort to encourage her independence.

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