Women out for a walk

Sometimes the best way to let go is to go for a walk or talk with a friend

Part 2 of 2

Read Part 1 here

Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge when to let go, especially when the consequences of doing so seem risky. Likewise, taking hold often requires a new way of thinking about our daily lives. What do taking hold and letting go really look like?

The tools for developing these ways of thinking are simple. Each involves an act of self-reflection. Throughout the events of any day you can evaluate what is truly in your control by asking this basic question:

“What do I need to take hold of here?”

This honest reflection helps you articulate where you stand, discern what’s important to you, and choose an action that will express your principles.

Conversely, when you ask the question,

“What do I need to let go of here?”

you relieve yourself of the burdens that are not yours to carry, including other family members’ behaviors and attitudes. In letting go, you open the door for others to enter your child’s life—including your child!

There is a natural ebb and flow to these two concepts. When you take hold of an idea or an action, you also may let go of something else. Life is not static and neither is parenting. The very thing you let go of today may be something you need to take hold of tomorrow, with a new understanding.

Worrying is part of parental territory. We are afraid that if we let go, something bad will happen to our children. We’re also afraid that something great will fail to happen so we swoop in at the slightest sign of struggle. Taking hold gives us something to do with our fears so that we can better hone our parenting instincts. It is an action step that can help us let go.

How do we take hold to let go? It may be

  • a walk
  • a talk with a friend
  • a call to someone who will put truth over harmony

We may choose to reflect by writing in a journal, asking ourselves “what part of this situation is my issue? How do I feel about it?”

Then there are our children. Sometimes the best thing we can give them is the true expression of our feelings, despite fear about how it will sound or the outcome.

Several years ago our son was diagnosed with a delay in his development. He was not talking and the outcome from the professionals did not look promising. Needless to say, my husband and I were devastated and those first few days and weeks were filled with plenty of tears.

Our oldest daughter, who was six at the time, would ask me what was wrong and I would reply, “Mommy’s fine. Mommy’s just tired.”

My responses were made with the best intentions—in my opinion, she was too young to deal with this complicated issue—but, I also knew that I was not being honest with her. One day, I took hold of sharing my fears with her and let go of trying to appear strong. As I started with, “Honey, Mommy is not just tired. Mommy is worried about…” of course, the tears came. She listened and put her arm on my back and said, “Mom, he is going to be just fine.” Not only did she help me, but she taught me a valuable lesson about taking hold and letting go.

Ultimately, we have to believe that our children will learn to take hold of their own destinies, just as we must learn to take hold of our own. While we are the primary teachers in our children’s lives, we are only a part of the overall equation. As mentioned earlier, by letting go, we give other people permission to enter our children’s lives.

Likewise, every time we take hold of our own lives, we help our children to move forward. We may not be able to fully control what befalls our children, but we can inspire them with the example of our own growth.

What do I need to take hold of? What do I need to let go of? These are questions that will move us closer to a true understanding of ourselves and others.