Do any of you as parents feel that parenting is a constant process of letting go? It hit me this weekend that I feel like I am continuously having a conversation with myself about letting go. To my clients that I teach self-talk, you can see I actually do use it myself!
This two weekends ago, we took our boys to our favorite park. My husband wanted to go somewhere with lots of room to help our 5 year-old learn to ride his bike. We made a little mistake in our parenting when we left his training wheels on for too long. Now he has created some bad habits such as looking all around at everything and not learning to balance. My husband is trying to teach him how to focus and not jiggle his handle bars too much etc. He did such a great job at the park that my husband was actually able to let go without our son knowing he had let go! I just remember seeing him let go for the first time. I literally held my breath for the entire 10 seconds before he fell to the ground (luckily with Daddy close by to help with the fall). I was so proud of him and made sure he knew it! But inside just a little part of me felt another piece of him was letting go.
I know this is all very normal and natural, but it is so hard. However, if we don’t learn to let go, our children will develop an unhealthy dependence on us that will lead into adulthood. It sounds silly to think that not letting go on a bike could mean dependence later but it’s true. If you continually don’t let go, let your children experience positive ways of developing independence, and then being happy for them (even when it hurts), they will grow up insecure and unable to be independent. Additionally, if you don’t “take off the training wheels” and force them to learn how to take care of themselves, they simply won’t. If it’s easier to leave the training wheels on and depend on us, why would they want to experience some pain, even though it will force them to grow?
I see this a lot with parents who now have grown children that are still dependent on them. They realize now that by enabling them and continuouly helping them, out of love of course, they have created a dependence that their children can’t seem to get out of. It was too painful for the parents to let go years ago and they are now paying the price. Unfortunately sometimes we have to watch our children experience pain in order for them to grow. It was so hard to watch my son fall off his bike. But I knew he had to in order to learn to ride independently.
As for me, this week is time for Kindergarden registration for next year. OUCH! I know I gotta do it and will do it. It is best for him. Just another way of letting go. My son will see this as another adventure, I am sure. I will allow myself to cry my Mommy tears and be proud that I am moving him one more step to independence.
Thank you for taking the time to read. God bless!
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.