Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Time for Letting Go

In some ways, parenting can feel like learning to dance. It's learning to be in tune with an individual; in tune with time. It's pulling them in, letting them go, and pulling them back in again – relying on the Holy Spirit to allow us to Waltz rather than stumble as we lead them – until it’s no longer our dance to lead:
When it comes to parenting, there is science and there’s also art.

At my son’s bicycle launch, I held the back of his seat to keep him steady while he positioned both feet on the pedals and then launched. Once he took off, he soared. He loved it, until he got a little nervous and fell. I helped him back up, steadied his seat and watched him take off again.

Robby had just barely grown into his bicycle over the summer. Needless to say, he hadn’t yet mastered the skill of launching his bike on his own. So after steadying his bike a few more times for him, I determined I would teach him all that he needed to know to achieve this task.

"Just put one foot on the pedal and keep one on the ground ... no, no don't sit on the seat yet!  OK ..." I said.

"STOP TEACHING ME, MOM AND JUST HELP ME GO!" he interrupted in frustration.

I stood there a little stunned. Do I reprimand him or heed those desperate words?

In that instant, it hit me. Those words represented so much more than just the momentary launching of his bike. In a flash, they represented a young boy who was ready to go – to soar – and just needed a steady place to launch. I could hear him repeating those very words ten years from now. But for today, the teaching was over. My job was to just help him go.

So I steadied the seat and let him go. 

There will be times when my children are just ready to go. They won't need a step-by-step tutorial when that time comes. Their home will hopefully be that steady place to launch. I'll watch them go. I'll watch them fall. I'll watch them get back up, come for help and go again. With age, maturity and experience, I'll watch them come home less and less for that steady place to launch. But, for certain, I’ll watch them soar.

There is a science to this vast responsibility of parenting, as in a step-by-step tutorial on how to ride a bike! As a mom I want to control the best outcome possible for my children. I test technical and systematic strategies until I find something that works. My job is far from over. To the contrary, the critical teaching is now! However, the art is in knowing when to let go. 

This article was originally printed in the March of 2011 MOMS next ezine.

Counting with Ann today:

vivid autumn days
grace in the hard
mercies new every morning
morning devotion with children
anchors in our day
vision for tomorrow
outdoor exploration together


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  1. Oh, friend, letting go is ART indeed. And it's no small thing to let go of that bicycle and watch them soar :) Hope your week is a great one. This post was beautifully written :)

  2. Being the mother of two teens and one tween I can say this is very true! It is our job to help them soar and to learn to let go. Thanks for sharing...visiting from WJIM.

  3. I love this...parenting is a science and an true...and yes...there are times we just have to stop teaching and let them go...God has shown me...if I am using so many words...”teaching” all the time...I leave little room for His Spirit to be their teacher...their guide...for me...this is the art...being led by His Spirit...not parenting out of fear...but Trusting the best parent in the world to parent me and my kids. And oh yes...the bike is the first step of freedom...then comes the keys:) Happy Monday to you....blessings~

  4. Ro, you have spoken to my heart, reminding us that the art in all of this is trust God and leaving room for the Holy Spirit.

    Thank you, ladies, for your sweet comments!

  5. This is a lesson I need to hear today. I worry about my daughter in her freshman year at college. Should I make this suggestion or that? Or do I just let her go and be available as needed? I know the answer. Thanks.

  6. As a mother of one who has left home, Lisa, your comment is enlightening to me. I guess it is always a dance within a mothers heart and a constant reliance on the Holy Spirit.

    Thank you, and Glenda, for your comments!

  7. Theresa,

    "Stop teaching me and just help me go!" was a perfect parenting thing to hear for my teens just now too, Theresa. Thanks.

    Have a lovely week.

    Jennifer Dougan

  8. wow, this is a great post, Theresa! Yes, parenting is a fine line between science and art, and I hope I'll know when to let go and when to teach. I love how you always see the lessons in the experiences!

  9. My oldest son, when he graduated from college said, "Thanks for the independence with training wheels." You describe parenting perfectly - that we have to let them fall, and help them get back up. Sometimes it's not just "teaching" they need - it's just having someone there! I loved this!

  10. perfect! stop teaching and just let me go. that letting go is an art. i liked how one commenter wrote "independence with training wheels."

    thanks for the challenging thoughts as i popped over from Ann's today!


  11. A science and an art. I'm still facing this with a daughter at the university and the oldest married. They call for advice but I find it's best to answer their question without over asking. Such a beautiful and touching real-life instruction tool.

  12. such wisdom in recognizing the art of parenting and letting go...blessings, Theresa :)

  13. Oh, my. Such a profound lesson. I just love the way you see, Theresa. Beautiful.

  14. Just getting to the point of letting go myself, and it's not easy. My daughter wanted to know how much longer her older brother was going to live with us (he's 11) because she thought he would move out when High School started. She's quite happy now to know he'll be hear for "forever".

    Thanks for this piece. Great read.


  15. I am still having a hard time with this as my son is about to turn 14, and I let go more and more every day without letting go completely. There is an art and a science to it all. I'm still learning.

  16. nice post thanks for sharing..found you thrue other bloggers hope visiting more..blessings

  17. Theresa...well written. I am in that stage of life where my children are slowly leaving the "nest" and how real that letting go is. And God is good to give me 20+ years with each to practice "letting go" a little bit at a time. Thank you for sharing at WJIM. I will be featuring your post this week. Blessings to you.

  18. Yes, a science and art of learning. This was a beautiful example of teaching our children. I am looking in on you from the other end of teaching children. Yes, ten years will fly by. It hurts inside a little to see them say things like that as they are pulled away by a life that is calling them. Letting them go at age 17 or 19 is exciting and pulls at the heartstrings of a mom :-)

    Thanks for linking up over at WholeHearted Home this past week and hope to see you again tomorrow.

  19. oh how i would love to go back
    to those days
    when my children were young
    and know what you know:)
    the's a beautiful thing.


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