It’s often said that our entire purpose as parents is getting our kids ready to leave us, and that’s true. But it can be really tough to let go sometimes, even at the benchmark of the age of technical adulthood, which is 18. It’s so tough to do and difficult to fathom that when we see parents moving in that direction when their children are so young, we’re apt to judge them for it.
That’s what Kate Gosselin will soon be dealing with, it seems. She’s recently said that she’s preparing to send her son Collin away from home for school. And while the mother of eight is certainly no stranger to harsh criticism when it comes to everything from her hair to her parenting, and while some of those criticisms may even be warranted, we’re tempted to head off the inevitable backlash now because honestly, sometimes letting go of your kid is the very best thing you can do for them.
Followers of the Gosselin clan’s ups and downs are probably already familiar with Collin’s past conflicts at school and home, some of which are behavioral and others educational in nature. Kate ended up homeschooling after Collin left the public school system in 2010 for what she termed “educational and social challenges,” and she recently revealed that these challenges are rooted in the fact that Collin has special needs. As a result, she told People magazine that the 12-year-old will be heading to a residential school to have those needs met.
And that could be a really good thing.
It’s easy to see parents who turn to alternative programs for help with their child’s behavioral and academic needs as lazy or cruel. The magic of love, we’re told, is supposed to heal all wounds and with a little patience and caffeine, there’s no job that a parent can’t best handle when it comes to their own children.
There are reasons to be concerned with some of those alternative programs. Some of the “tough love” camps have turned out to have nasty skeletons in their closets, and gay “conversion therapy” is tantamount to child abuse.
But there’s not a brush big enough to cover every residential school, team of experts or mental health facility with one giant stroke. We don’t know where Collin is going next, and we don’t know which of his needs Kate is hoping to address, and that’s none of our business. Here’s what we do know: Kate Gosselin is a single mother of eight children, and at least one of them needs help that she admits she cannot give him. So she’s doing the hard thing. She’s asking someone else to give him that help.
When parents make sacrifices for their kids, we call that selflessness. Whether it’s working two jobs to give them opportunities, never buying a scrap of clothing for themselves for years at a time or just giving up the last cookie in the jar, sacrificing your needs and wants for your kids is the bulk of the heavy-lifting that is being a parent.
If giving up a cookie is tough, giving up precious time with your children is bound to be even tougher. No one wants to feel like they’ve failed their children. No one wants to go months without having them at home to hug and kiss goodnight. But when they need something that you can’t provide, it doesn’t matter how it will make you feel. It matters that they get it. It matters that you’re enough of an adult to make the best decision on how that happens. And best decisions? We all know they’re not always easy ones to make.
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