Monday, June 6, 2011

The Joy Of Letting go

This is why I love Facebook. Because every now and then a video like this pops up on my news feed, and makes my day. This little boy and his attitude about life and challenging oneself is worth more than a year of expensive therapy.

Lets look at learning to ride a bike as a metaphor for parenting. You buy your kid a brand-spanking new bike. You buy the helmet and the knee pads, understanding that learning to ride a bike can be risky, but showing him/her that there are things you can do to keep you safe. First you put on the training wheels, just to give them some confidence. Some kids take off down the street, and never look back, and some kids need you by their side as they take on this shaky new mode of transportation. But over time, they develop confidence, and are ready for the next step. Off come the training wheels. You are both ready for the next challenge. You find a flat, open piece of road. You encourage them to start pedaling and then you hold on like hell as you attempt to hold them up. Some of us let go really early, the kid falls, cries, and you just encourage them to get up and get back on, and give it another shot. Some of us hold on for dear life, running our asses off to keep up with the kid who is really ready to go, but we are too scared to let go, worried they might go to fast and to far for us to help, and some of us sensing the time is just right, let go.

Eventually all these kids learn to ride a bike. Some important lessons have been learned. Taking risks as long as you are safe can be exhilerating.  Taking on a challenge, though frustrating at times, reaps enormous rewards. Stick with something really hard, use that frustration to fuel your desire to "get it" and then experience the power that you feel when you accomplish your goal. Just watch this little boy, and you will feel it with him.

Parenting is scary. If we let go too soon, maybe our kids will get hurt, but if we hold on to long they might never want us to let go. Parenting is about trust. Trusting our own instincts about our kids, and their readiness to "take off". Trusting our kids to use the lessons we have taught them to "be safe". Sending them off into the world, with their helmets and their knee pads, knowing there will be falls, but trusting their ability to get back up and get back on. Your teen will feel hurt from relationships gone sour, disappointment they didn't make a varsity team or get a good part in the school play, or frustration from a subject that they just "can't get." Protecting them from those feelings and trying to make it all better does not help build resilience and confidence.  Helping them up and brushing them off, and encouraging them to keep on going does. There is nothing better than that. This little boy says it best:"I feel happy of myself."

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