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How can I let my children grow up?

Our agony aunt, Mary Fenwick, offers her perspective on your problems

by Psychologies

I’m finding it hard to accept change as my family are growing older. I have two girls and a boy, all healthy and no trouble, which I’m very thankful for. My daughters are 25 and 19, and my son is 14. We’re very close and always do everything together. However, this is the first summer the girls are not both joining me on holiday and my son prefers to spend time alone in his room. I want to accept this and move on, but I feel I’m hanging on to past memories of the kids’ younger years. It’s quite upsetting and I don’t know how to let go. Ian

You have made being a father an integral part of your life in a way that many might envy. I wonder if you’re also a single parent, in which case you will have had even more experience at making up the rules as you go along.

It’s an interesting dynamic, doing everything together, but it’s only one way to be a family. Perhaps you now have three times the opportunities to do things with each of your children on their own. Can you make regular family date nights, and create new traditions – for example, each member of the family takes it in turns to plan the meal, or make a two-minute film about the evening? My family has invented a rule that we go out for each 18th birthday in turn to the same restaurant. I know another family that serves Mexican food every Thursday night.

I have also found with experience that the appeal of those photos you took, and the stories you carry around in your head, is only going to grow in value as your children get older. You know things about them that no-one else ever will, and that they might have forgotten themselves. Most of all though, embrace the opportunities for more freedom for yourself. Happiness is infectious and your happiness will keep your family connected.

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email [email protected], with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

Photograph: Istock