Letting Go of Our Children… One Step at a Time

Yes, it’s that time of year when fall is right around the corner and kids are getting ready to go back to school. It’s also the time of year when some parents are jumping for joy, as the father in the Staple’s commercial did…singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. However, there are some parents, myself included, who find this time of year bittersweet…happy for our child as we watch them spread their wings, but a little sad for ourselves as we let them fly.

I am experiencing this myself as I watch our 22-year “baby” move out of our house into his own place. Of course I began to “let him go” as he started preschool, went to his first sleepover, quickly moved onto to high school and was off to college in the blink of an eye. Now I was faced with the big move…he leaving home and beginning the next phase of his life. This experience was equally hard with our three older children, but there was something about this last goodbye that made it a bit tougher…maybe letting go of our life, as we had known it for years, as parents with kids under our wing.

Whether you are “letting go” of your child for the first time when you take them to daycare or for their first sleepover, or for those of you who are experiencing their first child starting preschool, or even college, letting go can be hard. The good news about letting go is that when you allow your child to spread their wings, you empower them and provide many learning opportunities by:

  • Sending a message that you are confident in their ability to handle new challenges.
  • Encouraging them to experience all that life has to offer.
  • Teaching them responsibility.
  • Allowing them to experience the world not just through your eyes, but also through their own.
  • Most importantly, you allow them to learn through their own life’s experiences.

In my experience working with many parents, I have noticed a growing trend lately. Some parents are becoming too involved in their child’s life, in fact there have been some terms coined for this…. “helicopter parent”, one who hovers over the child or the one who “over-parents”. What I have observed, is that when children are not “let go” of a little at a time, they often become too dependent on their parents. They find it difficult to make decisions on their own and are sometimes paralyzed by simple life’s decisions or even minor crises. Parents are often quick to try to solve their children’s problems.

It’s okay to let your child stumble or “fail” sometimes. We shouldn’t be so quick to fix their problems for them but to offer support as they problem solve on their own. Their times of struggle often provide opportunities for growth and allow valuable life lessons to be learned. The next time your child has a problem, try not to solve it so quickly for them. They may have had an argument with a friend, an “unfair” teacher or received an F on an exam. By letting your child work through their problems, you empower them. Life is not always easy and it’s important that children learn to solve life’s difficulties on a smaller scale before you let them go into the bigger world.

Try to remember, that although your child was not invited to a birthday party, or didn’t win a prize in a competition, they will do quite well in life when they’re permitted to experience life’s disappointments and given time and space to solve their own problems. So yes, letting go is hard but it is a gift that we can give our children.

How difficult is letting go for you?


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