This year our eldest son Jordan turned 21. The lead up to the big day was busy to say the least. With a party to organise and presents to buy I didn’t give a lot of thought to the way I would feel when the day finally arrived.

I anticipated feeling proud of Jordan and excited for him and his mates who are at this very moment in Byron Bay celebrating. What I didn’t expect was the extent to which Jordan’s birthday would lead me to reflect on not only his life but also my own.

Suddenly I could see the last 21 years with crystal clear clarity. As I reflected on each of the stages of Jordan’s life I pondered also the person I had been along the way, the influence his Dad and I have had on his development but also the lessons we had learned.

While like any other parents I know we haven’t been perfect, reflecting on the relationship we have built with our son, on the decisions we have made along the way, on how much I have learned from being his Mum, I was overcome with a sense of achievement.

Jordan came into my life when I was only a year older than he is now. At the tender young age of 22 I suddenly found myself responsible for another human being.

Not only was it my job to keep him safe, but also to guide him to becoming the best possible version of himself.

I imagined him as a man and wanted more than anything for him to be happy, confident and kind. I’m very proud to say he’s all three.

Being Jordan’s Mum has taught me so much – here are three powerful lessons I’ve learned:

1) There is no correlation between age and wisdom

On many occasions Jordan was the teacher and I his student. I remember as though it was yesterday the day Jordan said to me “Mummy, you choose how you feel. Don’t be sad, be happy”. He was six years old and I was having a temper tantrum.  It was clear to him that I had choice and I’m so grateful that he chose to share that with me.

2) Inspire and influence trumps command and control

It soon became evident to me that I couldn’t make Jordan do anything, I could only influence his choices. Jordan has shown the trust and respect he feels for us. Leading by example, showing empathy and being open-minded have undoubtedly been the most powerful tools in our parental toolkit.

3) People need freedom to grow

Like any protective parent there were many times when I wanted to hold Jordan close and protect him from the dangers of the world.

For him to grow however I realised he needed to experience life and I couldn’t always be there to make everything OK.

Letting go and overcoming fear has been a difficult challenge but one that has been essential to Jordan’s transition from being a boy to the capable young man he is today.

Can you relate to this story? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Author: Karen Gately
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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  • Im always saying that parents of boys have a massive responsibility. They are raising future boyfriends, husbands, fathers.


  • My son who is 20 and getting ready to spread his wings said to me ‘mum don’t stress so much because it may never happen and you are just upsetting yourself-just smile and be happy.’


  • So true !


  • Letting go was extremely hard for me. I think I’m getting over it slowly. I’ve had to because my daughter is so adventurous, she does so much I couldn’t, it scares me but she’s gotta do it. I’m proud of her for it


  • aw how sad i had some tears xx


  • it s super


  • My son is still a tot. I can’t imagine the day he turns 21! Hope he still gives me cuddles like he does now!


  • Your 3 lessons are so true and I am pretty ok with my older daughter going out into the world to uni and work but with My youngest daughter I am really struggling to let her go. Maybe because she is my baby or because she has diabetes she makes me worry the most. She is very level headed the most times but she wants to travel overseas by herself! I know I have to let her go but the emotional turmoil is a struggle.


  • thanks for the beautiful story x


  • Letting go is such a difficult concept for me to grasp. I am slowly learning to take a few steps back and let the kids go, make their own decisions, their own mistakes. I’m always there with advice and a helping hand and yo puck them up when they fall. 25 and 23 and I’m still learning


  • Yes I can relate to this. I have 2 wonderful sons and 2 wonderful daughters. The eldest son one day quietly said to me when I was yelling at one of the girls go easy on her mum she is not too good today, that time of the month. The youngest son when he was about 21 said to me quietly after I had a whinge one day. mum build a bridge and get over it! Yes we all can learn from our kids sons and daughters alike!


  • kool great


  • What a beautiful read and great lessons learnt


  • My ‘baby’ is 25 now and his partner is due to have their first child, my fourth grandchild, it has passed by so quickly but my family is growing at a rapid rate and are all close, lots of great times and great memories.


  • What a great article. I think it’s really important to look back and reflect. My kids are only 8 and 3 and I’m already looking back at where the years have gone! I’m sure they’ll be 21 before I know it.


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