Letting go. It’s a hard thing to do, and unfortunately we usually have to experience it cold turkey without any practice sessions or dummy runs. As adults we’ve experienced it in relationships or job situations. But the hardest time is when you’re a parent.
It’s that time of year for many parents all over the world. Our child goes off to college, or boot camp, or that year abroad, or that new job in another state.
We have to cheerfully let them go, trusting that they will make good decisions when they meet with obstacles and learn from their mistakes. And the one thing we can depend on is that they WILL make mistakes. Skills are usually learned through trial and error so perhaps we should be hoping that our child will make mistakes.
Okay, that may be hard to get our mind around!
Obviously we don’t want anything horrendous or serious to happen, but I think we as parents overlook the powerful benefits of letting our kids have negative experiences without us rescuing them. And I’m talking to myself, too! There’s nothing worse than hearing that your child, who lives an eight hour drive away, is going through something difficult. Your heart skips a beat and you want to step in and save them; especially if they that’s what they want you to do.
Our daughter just spent a year in the South Pacific – she really couldn’t have been further away from us if she’d tried! She was a recent college graduate with a fairly sensible, and definitely independent, personality. Her stay there included some difficult situations, most notably with cars! And even if we heard about them in real time there was nothing we could do to help, even if she wanted us to.
When she came home and I met her at the airport, the first thing I noticed was how she held herself. She was no longer a dependent of ours, a student, or even a young adult. She was an adult. I could see it in her bearing, and in her face. She had been truly independent for the first time, in control of every part of her day-to-day life. It hadn't always been wonderful, things didn’t always work out how she wanted, but she had survived.
She’d done more than that though, she’d grown.