‘I wrote this song. It took me 19 years from the time I first wrote the chord structure and melody line to when I finally completed the lyrics. It’s in part about my feelings for my own children but tells a story common to most parents. The story about letting go of your child and letting them become their own person, not the person you wish you had wanted to be yourself.
‘The biggest challenge is ‘letting go‘ of your child’s life and allowing them to become who they are. It’s especially challenging watching them (children) making mistakes on their journey. Many parents are intensely scared of their child making a mistake, especially one that may have high and lasting impact. However, being ‘around’ and ‘in the picture’ is a far more constructive position than being scared.
‘It’s very common to see highly motivated parents wanting to drive their children to be successful- but so often their measure of success is based on a story that’s simply ‘old world’. So often their dream for their child is based on something they are, or even more common, something they wanted to be.
‘It makes me uncomfortable when I hear parents bragging about their child when you know the bragging is based on the parents own low self-esteem. Often parents with a low self esteem choose to live through their children. The child’s success becomes their own success. It looks pathetic and, more than often, the parent doesn’t actually see or hear themselves doing it.
‘To me, the ultimate measure of a parental success is that their child can cope with challenges, make independent decisions, recover from making mistakes, feel empathy and find their own place in life. If a parent measures their child’s success on the basis of ‘status achievements’ such as being at the top university, having a ‘high profession’ or following in their own footsteps, they simply haven’t grown up. There are many children who are far happier being a carpenter, make-up artist poet or bus driver than a lawyer or doctor.
‘Of course there are some children that find it difficult to find themselves and be independent . In fact there are some children that can’t for reasons beyond their control. The last thing they need is a parent communicating expectations that just can’t be attained. In fact it’s deeply problematic for the child and can lead to deep mental health challenges.
‘I have been far from a perfect parent. There have been times I have raised my voice out of tiredness, sometimes I have failed to listen properly or not supported my child in a way, that upon reflection, I should have etc. etc. Fortunately, I have learned and accepted early that perfect parents are a figment of the imagination. On the other hand, something I learned to do well with my children is let them become the people they want to be. I had no deep commitment to them being a particular profession or status. I was committed to them being, in someway, the owner of a beneficial level of wisdom about themselves and the world.
‘The song ‘James’ is all about letting go of your child and recognises how difficult it is to remember that they are gift not a commodity to show off. It is the healthiest of feelings to miss your child, being the child that you could easily nurture and influence to do ‘the right thing’. The song really emphasises that your child’s desire to move away, especially in their early twenties’ is a goal achieved- even if it’s hard to watch.’