Seeing the best in life's challenges

Learning How to Let Go

on February 23, 2013

As parents, we want the best for our kids.  Of course, what we think of as “best” doesn’t always agree with the way our kids see it.  Each individual develops their own perspective on the world, what’s important, what’s “good” or “bad” and we don’t necessarily want these views to be questioned.

At some point, our view and the views of our kids diverge.  They have grown up in a different world than we have.  They have their own experiences, personalities, interactions with the world and other people, and they are forming their own paradigms.

It’s so easy to let these differences turn into an argument about who is right and who is wrong.  For all those years, when the parent was “in charge,” the parents could lay down the law and the child had to obey.  The parent was right, no questions asked.  This inevitable transition for a child, to begin making his/her own decisions, can be very tough on parents.   It’s hard to let go.

Our world is SO entrenched in determining what is right and what is wrong – this is such a deep-seated assumption – that to move beyond this assumption can be really, really tough for people.  See my post on Conflict.

No one likes to be told they’re wrong…..and especially to be told you are wrong by a “defiant child” can trigger all kinds of negative reactions.  A parent might see their role as “being in control” and to let go of this is hard.  If you see the world in black and white, right and wrong, being challenged is a threat, and one automatically goes into fight mode.  Go down this path, and it’s very hard to retreat.  Someone’s gotta lose.

Sure, parents are supposed to be the ones who are mature enough to see this coming, to self-reflect, to prepare themselves.  But people are people, and part of what children learn as they grow to become adults, is that we all have our weaknesses and imperfections.  We all have our baggage.  Our parents are not perfect; they are human beings just like we are.

So here’s an idea for young adults to consider:  you may have to gently help teach your parents how your new relationship is going to work.  You may have to be the one to step it up.  Don’t expect this to be easy, but it will be worth it.  And only do this if it makes sense and feels right.  I only ask that you think about this, then make this an opportunity to use your own sense of what is appropriate for you, to decide what to do.

YOU:  Mom, look, I know you are upset at this decision I made.

MOM:  I sure am, @&@^$%$%#^@*, etc. etc.

YOU:  OK, well, I want you to know that I understand how you feel and that you are upset and I respect your right to your opinion.  It’s just that I am trying to work on becoming independent and making my own decisions.  This is very important to me because …..

MOM:  If you do this, I’m going to ……  If you do this, (bad things are going to happen….)

YOU:  I understand what you are saying.  I would love your support in this situation, but I understand if you can’t give that to me.  I am willing to be responsible for what happens in the situation, but it’s important enough to me that I have decided this is what I am going to do.

 Of course, this could go on and on with no improvement or resolution.  The important thing is not to get sucked into being emotional, angry or hurt.  If you want your parent to respect you, you have to give them respect.  If this is a completely different dynamic than you have had, your parent will be really off-balance and will probably be very uncomfortable and maybe threatened.  You will have to keep this up through a lot of crazy stuff before they will finally realize that you are different, you have matured, and that the relationship is going to work differently now.

If you do not reciprocate with the anger, fear, craziness, emotional reactions, the situation is less likely to escalate.  If you can keep this up, your parent might (maybe for the first time in their lives?) have the opportunity to have a real, trusting, non-confrontational relationship with another person.  How new this could be!  They may not believe that this kind of relationship is possible.  You may be the one person who rises above and makes a difference and changes the pattern.

I know you are strong enough.  What do you think?


Love you, Cupcake.  You are a brave girl!!

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: