The Process of Parenting: Releasing

letting go of the bike

Take a deep breath, parents.  Here’s where the journey can get really scary for you and your kids.  And it is absolutely essential to their growth and development toward adulthood – and essential to your healthy relationship development, as well.  So, why is this so scary for us?  Why do we fear releasing them to face life for themselves?  Because we don’t want to see them get hurt!  Whether it is physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, or any combination of these, no loving parent wants to see their child experience frustration, pain, or failure.  We want to see them thrive, succeed, and achieve their best in life.  And for us to most effectively help them down that road, we must learn to see beyond the heartache of the moment.  They need us to see beyond the pain and the fear.  They need us to understand that in order for them to develop the skills most critical for successful living, we must grant them opportunities to either fly or fall.  For all our best efforts at teaching and training and all the good stuff we have examined in the last few posts, we must remember that their most effectively teacher is always going to be life experience.  And they won’t get the effective doses of life experience they deeply need if they have us holding their hand for them every step of the way.  For their growth, and ours, we must let go and watch them maneuver forward out of our reach.

A couple of points are critical in this challenge of releasing our kids.  Let us remember to teach our children to be people of their word by showing them that we are people of our word.  If we tell them we are releasing them in a given area, we need to honestly release them.  If we are not yet ready to release them, either because of their lack of readiness or our own fears, let’s not mislead them into thinking we are actually granting them that freedom.  Don’t play games with your kids.  Well, Monopoly and Settlers of Catan and some backyard basketball are great, but let’s not play mind games with them.  They are smart, and you don’t want the fallout it can cause in their lives and in your relationship with them.  Another temptation we must resist is being overly critical of them when we release them and they fall.  Yes, they need us to guide and correct them on the right path at times.  But we don’t want to parent them in such a way that it leaves them feeling we are just watching and waiting for them to fail.  And this will lead us directly into our final step in next week’s post…encouraging.  My favorite!!!

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