Mom, dad, thanks for letting me go (My thoughts on parenting)
Hey mom, hey dad, Thank you. Thank you for letting me go. I don’t say it enough, well, actually, I don’t think I’ve ever said it, but I wouldn’t be here without you two. You gave me the freedom to do so many random, dangerous maybe, untraditional things. You gave me the freedom to figure things out for myself and to grow in the direction I wanted to grow too. I might never fully understand that… Normally, whenever I go on to do the next crazy thing in my life, you write me a letter and hide it in my suitcase or something. This time you didn’t, so I think it’s time for me to write one for you. Thank you…
When I dropped-out of High-School
“I can’t, I won’t go back there” — is what I said. Three weeks before the school year ended. It was my second year of High-School (Or middle school depending on what part of the world you’re from). 13 years old, no clue about the world, and you said ‘ok’? I was naive back then (and maybe I still am) I had such a hard time understanding why certain things are the way they are, and why a young kid somehow couldn’t change that. This is by far the most impactful decision I’ve ever made in my life and I’m so thankful that we made it… I think about it a lot and I might never understand what gave you the idea, the trust, that I would be better off without school. But I’m very grateful that we figured that out.
When I moved to New York City
Nearly 2 years ago now, I sold my company and hopped on a plane to New York City to figure out if there was a future there for me. At the time, you weren’t that happy about it, especially you dad. But you didn’t hold me back… I didn’t know what was gonna happen once I got to New York, didn’t know anyone there and I didn’t have a place to stay. But still… you let me go… I was barely 18 years old. What made you do that? This trip turned into a 9-months-long adventure. It was the best experience I’ve had in my life! This trip is when I started to discover who I really am, or at the least, who I want to become.
It showed me this huge world of opportunities, it teacher me to carry the consequences of my own actions…
When I moved to Canada
Maybe I’m wrong, but it feels like it is getting easier for you guys to let me go. I remember sending my confirmation number right after I booked my flight to Toronto, and you answered with: ‘Congrats!’. That was quite significant for me, as it showed our progression in trust and understanding. I know it was still hard for you, but it felt right.
For once, I didn’t feel guilty for leaving you behind…
Related article: “Why I moved to Canada”
I can understand that knowing the difference between protecting and overprotecting your children can be challenging. In fact, I wouldn’t know how to handle it myself. But I believe that in order for your kids to succeed in ‘the real world’, you need to let them fail sometimes. Let them hit a wall… (We’re young, we’ll bounce back 😉) If I had to tell you how many times I’ve hit a wall in these last few years, I’d be doubling the length of this article. But every-time it happened, I knew what-not to do, which is often as important as knowing what to do.
Related article: “Am I allowed to Say NO?”
One exercise that can help as a parent is Negative Visualization. Go sit down somewhere, write down what it is your kid(s) wants to go do, and seriously think about the worst possible, realistic outcome. Second, start thinking about solutions to those (possibly negative) outcomes and you’ll start to notice that in most cases, things are relatively safe. I’m not an expert on this topic, but I would definitely suggest looking into it a bit deeper.
The best parenting = no parenting?
This is a very unpopular opinion, I know. Parenting and the household you grow-up in, definitely have a big say in what person you will end up becoming. But I also think over the last 50 years, the role of the parent has changed tremendously. For my grandparents' generation, it was common for their parents to match them with a partner, to pick their kids' education… While in a lot of cases this is still through, you do see my generation making more and more decisions on their own (for better or for worse). More and more people know where they want to go in life, or at least feel the need to figure it out for themselves.
I believe a lot of us actually suffer from being influenced by our parents. And it’s not necessarily because of who they are. Your mom might be a drug-addict or your dad might be a killer. That’s bad. But that’s not the case for most of us. Our parents are not a bad influence because they’re bad people, but because they can only show us one perspective on life: Theirs. They only know how to live life in their way, which is fair, but that shouldn’t and doesn’t mean we should live life the same way they do.
Especially now with the internet available to all of us at any time, we can choose who we surround ourselves with. Let them. We can listen to people who are in a position we want to be in, interact with them and be inspired by them. My drive for moving to New York didn’t come from my parents. They had never been there till about a year ago when they visited me. It was someone else who showed me an alternative to what life could look like. It was Casey Neistat, Gary Vaynerchuk, Sarah Dietchy, Kraig Adams… Who showed me what a wonderful place NYC is and by surrounding myself with their POV’s, believes and actions, I decided to give it a shot too.
If you’re not happy with the people around you, the internet is a great place to go. Just remember that it’s just a facilitator to then actually go on and meet other human beings and experience new things.
So while I know all of us need parents and parenting, I think a lot of times, we might actually be better off without them, or distant from them… In my life, the relationship with my parents is always been better whenever we’re 6000 km (3700 miles) apart. We eat each-other up when we’re in the same room. But that’s normal. We are not the same people. And I don’t think we should be…
I’m not sure why my parents have done what they did, but I can only be grateful to them. I don’t even want to think about where I would be right now if they didn’t let me pursue the things I wanted to pursue. I have some ideas, but I really don’t want to go there…
If you’re a parent, please listen to what your kids have to say or want to do, because most of the time, it’s not random, or stupid, or unthoughtful.
It’s just hard to see what they see from the outside, and trusting your kids is step one to getting a better understanding of just that… Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me through the links below. I’d love to hear stories of other ambitious kids like myself ✌️
About Louis De Keyser
Louis is a 20 year old, in the process of moving from Belgium to his dream city, New York. He was the founder and CEO of Tiny House Belgium, a Tiny House Design and Construction company that focused on promoting the idea of ‘smaller living’ and ‘living life without a mortgage’. He sold his business in January 2017 to pursue his dream of moving to North-America. Right now, Louis lives in Toronto Canada. Stay up-to-date by signing up to my Messenger List!