A very experienced educator described parenting this way: you tie your children securely enough to the dock to keep them from drifting, but not so tightly that they have to break away violently. This way when they are ready to push off they have something solid to push from. If they are not tied up at all they will drift aimlessly and without destination or reference and have no dock to return to.
I would like to push the metaphor further, into adulthood. But I realize that part of me may never make the leap to adult and I will continue to search for the dock.