Do You Step Back Or Do You Let Go?

I believe one of the most difficult things as a parent is learning to let go when all of your being wants to hold onto this precious life you created and/or nurtured.  As parents, caregivers or guiders of these young lives we want to protect our children from the bumps, bruises, and even black eyes and broken noses that life can give.  Unfortunately we can’t shield our children from everything.

As a parent to children ranging in ages from 10 to 30, I have learned that sometimes I have to step back and other times I have to let go.  I guess you are wondering what is the difference between the two? 

In stepping back, you remain close enough to catch the child and stop them from falling.  In letting go, you are empowering your child to make a mistake and in some cases you are agreeing to let them fall flat on their behind because you know you won’t, you can’t always be there. 

I have been a Human Resources executive in various Fortune 500 companies.  I have witnessed some great events and some tragic events. From the adoption of an employee’s long sought after child, losing a member of my organization in the 9/11 attacks, and watching an employee battle an unforgiving disease until their last breath. I have learned life is not fair and there are no guarantees.

I have seen the effects on a child when a parent refuses to let go.  The child either grows into a stagnated adult scared to take on challenges, shying away from new places and people, and worst yet, never realizing his/her full potential. Or, the child grows up to be an angry, bitter member of society because he or she watched life pass them by. This is the person whose negative attitude keeps them from being a real member of their organization; whom no one really likes to work with.  This is the person who others celebrate when they are on vacation or even a leave of absence.  No one wishes them harm, but everyone wishes them good riddance.  Have you ever met anyone like that?  I have and I want to make sure my children don’t grow up to be one of these people.

I want to give my daughters every chance possible to not just be productive members of society, but contributing members to society.  I didn’t birth them to take up space.  I birthed them so their smiles, personality, and purpose bring light and joy to dark places.  I want them to walk into a room and feel that people are glad they are here.  God has blessed me to feel this time and time again.  It is a wonderful feeling to know you matter, to know you make a difference.

I find that I have to be willing to take chances and fail too.  I have failed more than I have succeeded, but my successes have been greater than I ever could’ve imagined.  I want my children to experience this too, but they must do so on their own terms and that means I have to let go.  

Letting go isn't easy and letting go doesn’t mean you don’t help your child.  It means you become a cheerleader, advocate, or even a coach on the sidelines.  You are the one yelling at the top of your lungs. Get up! Wipe your eyes, you can do this!  Just get up and try again, but this time be smarter, better, and bolder!

You see the gifts of knowledge and wisdom you have bestowed upon your child have permeated their very being so when the time comes your child will recall your words and make the right decision.  Personally, I have learned that in letting go that I am saying to my daughters, I believe in you, I trust you, I am here for you but now it is your turn.  Be Bold! Be beautiful, and most of all be courageous!