One thing I noticed as a cancer survivor, my perspective in parenting changed. I’ve recently communicated with other cancer survivors who share my view. Many non-cancer patient parents fear their kids growing up and becoming independent and not needing them. They wish for days when their kids needed them, wish they were still young, dependent on their parents, in a sense.
Not long after my diagnosis, when my kids were 10 and 11, I wanted so much for them to achieve independence and adulthood. I wanted them to be able to survive and thrive without me. I wanted them to have dreams and ambitions and goals that surpassed their need for a mother. I didn’t want to be central in their lives anymore. After I was diagnosed, one of my daughters told me she would want to kill herself if I died, as she couldn’t imagine living without me-she wanted to go to heaven where I would be. That scared me. She had so much to offer, so many gifts to give to this world. So much purpose left to achieve.
A cancer-survivor friend I recently spoke with had a very aggressive cancer, and is now 5 years cancer-free. Her children are age 14 and 8. She said she pushes them towards self-sufficiency and independence. She never wishes to go back to the old days when her kids were younger. I am the same. My husband and I were empty-nesters for a year, and I didn’t have any of the issues of grief and loss other parents have. I celebrated my kid’s independence. I was thrilled my kids were making a life of their own away from me, that I wasn’t central anymore, that they had hopes and ambitions that didn’t include me. Now I think parents that want their kids to remain dependent on them are kind of selfish. I want my kids to fly on their own wings! I’m so glad I was here to give them values, dreams and hopes as they grew up. But my ultimate goal is that they can live a full life without me. As long as I am here, I want to have a good relationship with them…but I don’t need them to need me as they used to.