Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
Parenting: A Journey of Acceptance and Letting Go
During office hours in The Heartful Parent Academy a few weeks ago, we were discussing a number of different parenting issues, from extroverted parents with seemingly introverted kids, to a teen’s desire to attend a specialized high school and forego the “normal” high school experiences, to cell phone usage and management, crushes, and bullying.
As diverse as the issues seemingly were, we kept coming back to one thing:
The idea that in order to parent fully, presently, and wholeheartedly, we have to recognize one fundamental truth:
It’s not our journey.
We are not our children.
And while our egos often get wrapped up in who they are and who they become, at some point, we have to embrace the idea that their life is just that—theirs.
And just like ours, it will likely be messy, and imperfect, and beautiful, and tragic, and triumphant.
They will make good decisions and bad ones.
They will get their hearts broken. Probably more than once.
They will break someone’s heart. Probably more than once.
They will feel like they don’t fit in.
And they will feel like they’re on top of the world.
All the ups and downs of the journey that we’ve been on? They may help us guide them, offer suggestions, and perspectives. But they will not—cannot—dictate our children’s journey.
Because it’s not ours.
And sometimes we may not like the lessons it has to teach very much.
As I’ve watched my own children grow and learn and expand into themselves, I’ve more than once thought, “but that’s not how I would have done it.”
The desire to save them from “mistakes”—to save them from the pain those “mistakes” may cause—is strong in a parent. It’s strong in me.
And yet the more I have found myself in struggle, trying to mold one of my children to be more like me, or to make the same kind of choices I made, the more disconnect and distance I’ve discovered between us.
We only get to keep them for so long, and every day, they take one step closer to truly creating a unique life that is all theirs.
The tension is hard, the accepting can be hard, the letting go can be hard—ask any parent who has just dropped their child off at kindergarten or college for the first time.
But that is our journey.
The letting go and letting be is our journey.
And if we have the courage to sit back and let it unfold, we just might find beauty there.
As the wise Fred Rogers said:
Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now—and to go on caring even through times that may bring us pain.
That’s the truth of it, isn’t it?
The hard, ugly, beautiful truth.
In what ways are you walking the tightrope between holding on and letting go? How are you embracing and accepting the journey your child is on? And what steps could you take to accept it more deeply?
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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.