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Letting Go
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Last week our young-adult son moved out-of-state. He just finished a degree at the community college and wanted to be closer to a friend, so he packed up his belongings into his little Honda CRX and went south. I was out of town and missed saying good-bye. He did come by before leaving town to bid farewell to the rest of the family. It’s hard to let go.

From the time our children are born, we parents are continually going through the process of letting them go. At appropriate times we allow them privileges and freedoms and we know tying them too tightly to ourselves will stunt their growth. Our goal is not to make them dependent on us, but to help them function in the world without us. Separation doesn’t always “feel” right, but deep down inside we know it is right. Even Jesus reminded us, “…a man shall leave his father and mother…” (Matthew 19:5).

In one sense we will always be the parent of our children, whether they are five or 55. But in another sense we know that our role changes over time. We don’t relate to a young adult son like we did when he was eight. And when we do, we should expect a natural reaction against this doting and childish approach to him. Yet, it’s easy to keep parenting patterns in place, even though our children have moved into a new stage of life.


Reflecting on the experience of our son leaving home (this is the second of our children to move on), I’ve come to a few conclusions to help the transition. First, I recognize that I can only prepare my child to deal with blunders in life, but not prevent them. I’ve certainly made many mistakes in raising our children, but at some point I must completely put them into God’s hands. They must become accountable for their own choices. Otherwise we foster a victim mentality that will drag them down with the thought, “It’s my parents’ fault.”

Second, letting go is a gift to them and yourself. The kindest present you can give your adult child is the freedom to spread their wings and fly. If someone tied the legs of baby birds to their parent’s nest, we would call that cruelty. How often we confuse genuine love with sentimentalism. Such feelings are less about true care for them and more about us.

It’s not easy to let go. It takes self-discipline. It requires sacrifice. It causes you to look in the mirror and say, “I could have done a better job, but I must move on and so must my children.” Like an archer, we have arrows that we have placed in the bow. We have done our best to raise them and now must pull back the string. It’s time to let them fly!

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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