The definition of love requires constant re-examination. It means one thing when we are young, one thing as we look for a partner, another when we find work that speaks to us.

It especially requires re-examination when we have children. We fall in love with the idea of parenting so we decide to have a baby, and then once we have a baby we fall deeply in love with this new person. As they grow, our loves grows, and too often so do our fears and our concerns – this often morphs into a desire to tell our children who to be or what to do an effort to keep them “safe”.

We need to be aware of what they really need from us. This often-used paraphrased quote offers simple clarity: We give our children two things: one is roots, and the other is wings.

These two things, roots and wings, can often feel paradoxical, but they actually work as team, allowing our children to feel connected to the world while simultaneously encouraging them to expand their horizons.

Roots are established by a sense of belonging, a sense of knowing that there is space and acceptance in the home. Children need to feel safe being themselves in the presence of their parents so they have the stability to deal with whatever life throws their way. Roots lead to strong sense of self and the ability to ebb and flow with life’s challenges.

Giving children wings means knowing when to step back and not interfere. It means allowing them to fail, allowing them to choose what they love, and allowing them to let go of things they once loved but are ready to release. Giving our children wings means giving them permission to trust their instincts and navigate their life experience.

Embracing the roots and wings approach means listening to our children’s perspective and potentially opening up to a new viewpoint. It means allowing them to try something new with our encouragement and support rather than imposing fear and worry.

It means recognizing that our children have an individual life they need to lead. Offering them roots and wings frees us from dictating how our children’s journey will unfold, and instead, supporting their path wherever it leads.