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Seven Home and Seven Flown: Thoughts on Leaving Home

Seven Flown and Seven Home: Reflections on Kids Leaving Home

Seven Home and Seven Flown: Thoughts on Leaving HomeSeven Flown and Seven Home: Reflections on Kids Leaving HomeWe’ve just launched our seventh child into the big, wide, world.

Okay, maybe not quite into the big wide world, but off to university, at least. Our family structure is complicated. Enoch was our fourth baby, but in 2007 we adopted three teens, making Enoch now, our seventh child.

Half of our kids live at home and half have moved out. How did we get here?

I have been seeing posts all over the internet about mom’s crying over their kids leaving for college. That hasn’t been me, at all. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely miss my adult children who have moved out. But here’s the thing, by the time every one of my children has moved out they have been ready, prepared, and it has seemed like the natural next step.

{Please know, I don’t have all the answers, my children are far from perfect, and there is no formula. Please take my words in the spirit of, “hey, this is what we did and it worked for us” and nothing more. I also fully appreciate that different families have different values. For us, world travel is important, sports aren’t, for you, it may be the opposite.}

By the time my adult children have moved out they have done the following things.

Become a World Traveler

New Zealand iPhone photos

Our teens have been to Liberia, Honduras, Zambia, Guatemala, Malawi, Colombia, New Zealand, Tanzania, Mexico, Ethiopia, and Peru (not all teens, each country, this is a cumulative list). 

We don’t have an overabundance of money. In fact, we are still working on paying off debt that we accrued after Apollo’s birth and Chuck’s business. We are chipping away at it steadily (we use Dave Ramsey and his Every Dollar app) and making progress. Despite Dave’s advice to be gazelle intense, the reality is our children are growing up now and there are some experiences we want them to have, even while we pay off debt.

We put a high priority on world travel because we want our children to see the world outside of the walls of our family, our small corner of the Pacific Northwest and our country. The benefit of this is when our children do move out it isn’t their first time away from home and it isn’t their first time out in the big, wide, world.

Learned the Value of a Dollar

Enoch is an ambitious young man who has worked to pay his way through college.

Enoch spent the summer flagging for a construction company.

While I personally wouldn’t choose to have to struggle financially, I can see the benefits of this in my children. My kids know the value of a dollar. They know if they want something someone will have to work for it. They know how to find a bargain, when to pay more for quality, and when to buy generic.

My children, thankfully, have never gone without needed clothing, food, or shelter, but the extras aren’t always in the budget. This life experience has taught them about the value of a dollar more than any amount of books or lectures on the subject.

Learned How to Work Hard

By the time my kids leave home they know how to work hard.

A large family means plenty of projects and teamwork. 

Large family life means endless loads of laundry, sinks full of dirty dishes, and plenty of opportunities to learn to work. Needing to budget carefully means they know that there truly is no free lunch. They don’t expect things to be handed to them, they are happy to help others when the opportunity arises and doing dishes, laundry, and housecleaning isn’t a shock to them when they are finally on their own.

Learned to Fail

By the time my kids leave home they have learned how to fail.

Clearly whoever designed this sign failed to grasp the English language.

Watching our children fail is hard, maybe one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a mom. We all want to see our children thriving, happy, and winning in life. But guess what? We all fail at some point or another. Our children have seen us make mistakes and fail (we don’t try to hide these) and they have had plenty of opportunities to fail themselves in the safety of our home. This means when they are at a job, or away at college, they don’t expect anyone to rescue them when they fail.

Guess what? One of my adult children once overslept on the day of an extremely important job interview. When this child called me, I told them to call the employer right away, apologize, and see what arrangements could be made. I advised my child, but I certainly didn’t attempt to rescue them. And in the end? They got the job.

Learned Responsibility

Kids leaving home need to have already learned about responsibility.

Judah purchased his first car for cash at age 21.

All of the lessons above have contributed to my children learning responsibility. As a large family, it is essential that we work as a team and that each person learns to contribute in a valuable way. Sometimes I think having a large family makes it easier for kids to learn real responsibility. There is always laundry to do, dishes to be washed, other family members to look after and involve in your plans.

Once my children are teens they are expected to manage their own bank accounts and make their own appointments. I am always available for advice, help, and transportation, but I begin having them navigate these tasks on their own.

By the time my kids leave home they have learned responsibility.

By the time my children have left home I have had the confidence that they are ready to leave home. Yes, they will struggle and make mistakes, that is part of life no matter how prepared you are, but I was confident that they each have the skills they need.

Enoch is now settled into his dorm at CWU and we are excited to see him spread his wings and fly.

A vlog about it is in the works…

Have any of your kids left home? Were you heartbroken or excited to see them take flight? What about when you left home?



  1. thissquirrelsnest

    Mine are still small and not always good at letting them fail. I try more and more to encourage their active engagement with tasks. My mom didn’t allow us to do anything for ourselves around the house. Something I really pushed against. There is a lot I had to teach myself (cooking, laundry etc) in college and later. My brother lived with and off our parents till nearly 30.

    When I had difficulties in school they told me to deal with it myself. With my brother everything was always someone else’s fault and they always went to bat for him.

    The difference in treatment was painful but I’m glad I’m not my brother.

  2. sarahwamuhiu

    My husband was mostly on his own from the time he was 16 (he was still in high school, family was near by and he had means of providing some for himself, its a long story). I lived in my parent home until the day I got married (minus one year at college far far away from family but near a few family friends). I’m grateful my parents provided for me and I do think they really did a good job giving me opportunities to learn to “adult” but my husband was far far better prepared for real adult life. He also has a very independent personality which I’m sure helped. 😀 We are in the thick of teaching an 8 year old to be responsible and a 3 year old to obey! I hope we will give them room to grow and fly as they grow older.

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