Parenting And Letting Go 

You need to let go continuously as your child grows up.  Some thoughts…

Being a parent is a constant process of letting go.  Even shortly after birth, the process starts.  You hand your precious newborn to someone else for a second.  Will s/he drop your heir?   Your newborn is crying in her/his crib. You don’t get there fast enough. Will s/he be forever traumatized?

Now your child wants to walk. So you clench your teeth as s/he falls and/or hits her/his head on the chair. You imagine the real probability of brain trauma.

Then we get to preschool or child care.  The little one starts to cry as soon as you turn your back.  You see serious bills at the therapist to treat separation anxiety.  Worse still, s/he doesn’t cry.  Your mind flashes two ways:  Is your child a sociopath?  Or did you do something wrong, where you’re not needed or missed?  Do you need a new hobby or a pet to replace your child?  Should you have another child so you can do it right this time?

Then come the beginnings of sleepovers and camping trips without you.  You feel pride in not getting a call, but you’re so glad when they come home because you missed them.

One of my clients fretted at her son going to the Boys and Girls Club in the afternoon.  She was worried about what he’d learn.  Other children’s bad habits?  What if he learned to play cards or gamble?

Puberty starts to stir the environment.  Now we’re talking serious loss.  Your child no longer looks at you for inspiration.  Hillary, in the comic strip Sally Forth, has begun to discover boys and no longer needs her father, Ted.

Then the prospect of college looms for many.  My personal and professional experience says that kids start thinking about that early, perhaps in their sophomore year in high school.  By the second semester of their junior year, they’re in a college daze.  Senior year can be a blur and a difficult time.  You’re not there, except as a source of money.

And then they leave home, and what do you have?  Relief and new fears.  Will they study?  Will they use drugs too much?  Will they pick the wrong person?  Will they drive safely?  Will their friends drive safely?

It’s normal to have these fears — join the parent club.  They won’t end till you pass from the scene.  So, learn to let go.  Seek solace in your partner, friends, and your own life.  If you get too upset, talk to a counselor.

One Response to “Parenting And Letting Go”

  1. Imagine that you are trying to get to a friend?s house, and you’ve never been there before. You ask your friend where his house is, and he responds, “In the United States.” Obviously, that?s not enough information to be able to find his house. He’d have to get more specific.
    Letting go is like that. The more specific you can be about what it is you need to let go of, the more successful you will be. I find it helps to answer the following questions:
    1. Who is involved in the problem?
    a. Is the problem about another individual, or is it about me?
    b. If it?s about another individual, is there something I can do to change the problem (remember, you can?t change other people?s behavior, you can only change your own)?
    c. If the problem is about me, is it something I can change?
    d. If it?s something I can?t change, is it something I can accept?
    e. If I can?t accept it about myself, why not?
    2. What is the nature of the problem?
    a. Specifically, what worries me about this event/situation?
    b. Is it something that is within my power to change?
    c. If it?s in my power to change, what steps do I need to take in order to change it?
    d. If it?s beyond my power to change, what steps do I need to take in order to accept it?
    e. What?s the worst thing that can happen in this situation?
    3. When is this problem likely to happen?
    a. Am I worried about something that happened in the past?
    b. If it?s in the past, the past is over and done with. Why am I worrying about it now?
    c. Is it something that may happen in the future?
    d. If it may happen in the future, have I done all I can to prevent it from happening?
    e. If I?ve done all I can to prevent it, why am I still concerned about it (be specific)?
    4. Where is the problem likely to happen?
    a. Is this problem associated with a certain place?
    b. Is this a place that I can avoid going to?
    c. If it?s not a place I can avoid going to, is there something I can change about the situation?
    d. If there?s nothing I can change about the situation, what would I need to change about myself in order to accept the situation?
    5. How likely is this problem to occur?
    a. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = “no anxiety at all” and 10 = “maximum anxiety,” how worried am I about the problem?
    b. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = “no chance at all” and 10 = “will definitely happen,” how likely is it that this problem will happen?
    c. If the rating from “a” is greater than the rating from “b,” am I needlessly worrying about a situation that isn?t likely to happen?
    6. Why is this a problem?
    a. Being as specific as possible, why does this problem worry you?
    b. What would need to change in order for you to worry less about the problem?
    c. Is the answer in “b” something you have the power to change?
    d. If not, what would have to change in your thinking in order for you to be able to accept the problem?

    Hope this helps!
    Charlton Hall, MMFT, LMFT

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