In The Evolving Self Robert Kegan talks about how crucial "holding environments" are. We have to be appropriately "held" in order to feel safe enough to develop and grow, so that eventually, when the time is right and the Spirit moves, we grow up. We move forward. We mature.
"Holding environments" are a tricky business. For parents, I mean. Providing the safety in which children can learn to take appropriate risks--wow. How would anyone really know how to do that?
Lovely Passionate Feminist moved out this week. To an apartment in a city 45 mintues from us. I looked at these apartments with her a few months ago--they were clean, the grounds were very well maintained, the leasing staff was impressive, and they were affordable. I remember a sign on the wall of the leasing office which let residents know about a "free lunch" program for children in the summer. That, plus the affordability of the place, told me that there were lots of low-income folks here, single moms with children and the like. It reminded me of the apartments I moved into when I first moved out.
Seemed perfectly fine.
When David saw the apartments for the first time this week (as he helped her move), they encountered a couple fighting--screaming at each other outside their apartment. It was one of those scary kinds of fights. Then they noticed a couple of guys "cruising" the apartments, driving around, slowly, looking "suspicious." And, finally, they encountered a couple of guys coming out of an apartment who were rip-roaring drunk. In the middle of a workday.
Ahhh....this beautiful young woman is leaving the safety of our home for THIS? YIKES!~
David gave her loads of advice and bought her a baseball bat. When I got there that evening, I immediately launched into how important it was to NOT OPEN YOUR DOOR UNLESS YOU KNOW THE PERSON. And I kept remarking about how the doors were solid wood and how good that was.
Lovely Passionate Feminist is a serious, highly intelligent person. She's a very mature 21 y.o., and she'll be okay. But LAUNCHING someone into adulthood like this is not easy.
Besides "holding on" and "letting go," Kegan (following Winnicott) also talks about "staying put," by which he means staying in the relationship, open and securely, as the person moves forward and the relationship inevitably changes.
We're definitely "staying put," and trying hard to "let go" appropriately. Was it okay to give her all this advice, which I'm sure unsettled her...or should we have nixed all the advice-giving and just mirrored her excitement as best we could?--(along with some honest tears of sadness at our own loss, of course. I know those tears were authentic and good.)