A Word to the Helicopter Parent (or Friend) in You
Nobody prepared Donna and I for the “letting go” it’s taking to send our first-born child off to college after 18 years of intimate daily life. For parents watching their children stumble into new chapters away from home, and for others weighing whether to rush in to save a friend or loved one apparently over their head (which might exactly be the right thing to do), I pass on a hard but freeing word a blessed mentor recently passed onto me:
Rewards await those parents who watch with compassion as their young adult children stumble and fall along their life’s path. What we must want to do is prevent our child’s suffering however we can, but sometimes it’s best to stand back and let them figure it out for themselves. Their solutions won’t be ours. They will probably be messier, take more time, struggle over obstacles we conquered long ago. But in letting go we give them dignity and the confidence born of hammering out workable solutions. The faith inherent in our compassion is more healing than the anxious mistrust of a caretaker. When we let go of our children, it is for them, when we hold on, it is for us. One of the healthiest legacies we can leave our children is the trust we invest in them and the faith we express in the face of life. In this way we teach them that each of us has the gifts to master whatever life hands us.
TODAY LET ME WATCH WITH COMPASSION AS MY CHILDREN SLIP AND FALL AND LEARN ABOUT THEIR OWN RESOURCES.
On this day of Sabbath, of “ceasing and desisting,” may we restfully see with loved ones near and far where to let go and when, and to put our trust in the living God who loves them far more than we do.
[Cartoon ‘Zits’ by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, August 31, 2009]