The art of parenting is all about letting go. In the end, it’s up to our children how their journey will play out.
Sure, parents love, guide, encourage, teach, model, and serve a host of crucial roles.
At the core, though, it’s all about preparing children to become independent citizens in the world. As a parent, I spent years negotiating the art of preparing my children to leave me.
As an adult of influence, it is my job to strengthen children’s emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical states of being.
After what seems a very short time, however, children inevitably leave to follow their path.
Therein lies the challenge: learning to let go over and over.
It all starts when we hand our baby over for his first doctor appointment. Then, it’s a series of “Bye, you’ll be fine” events: childcare, kindergarten, sleepovers, camps, lessons, classes, and sports.
Mixed throughout the years, there are times she has to meet challenges, such as bullying, bad teachers, friend issues, academic struggles, competitions, failures, and learning responsibility.
Bigger still are the huge goodbyes: college, international trips, dating, driving, and marriage.
A parent’s primary job is to prepare children for times when they won’t be there to parent. Eventually, we have to let go, say goodbye, and trust children to find their own path.
At the time I wrote this blog, Alex was preparing to spend her 18th birthday in Spain. Several months later, she moved 3,000 miles away for college.
Somehow, the goodbyes get harder.
I’m fascinated that over the last more than two decades, I’ve known in my heart that the whole point of parenting is to prepare my children to live independently. And yet, somehow, I find myself wanting to lock my kids in a room and protect them. Can you relate?
But, alas, I know better. I realize that I am not able to control, nor am I responsible for the path my children follow. I spent the last couple of decades preparing to let go.
So many times, I prayed, “God, I know you love my children. Please protect and guide them through whatever life brings. I know you got this; but let me know if there is anything I can do…because it’s hard to do nothing after years of doing so much.”
Always, I must trust that God is in control. I did my best to guide and teach. Now, it’s up to them to find their way. I must continue letting go and saying goodbye, trusting that they’re prepared to meet life head-on.
Letting go and saying goodbye is hard; but, there are no other alternatives.
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~Elizabeth Stone
The tearful practice of letting go is worth every goodbye. For, in the end, we must let our children fly.