If You Let Them Go, They’ll Stick Around

I had no idea that the gap that launched me into single status could possibly get any wider. I can see now, though, how inevitable it would be, for as I kept taking steps backward, slowly turning away from the disaster my life had become, and finally running like hell, my scenery changed, my viewpoint cleared, and my vision sharpened.  I found myself standing in a place my ex would never understand.  The rules regarding school work, curfew, healthy eating – the rules that united, albeit loosely, the ex and I together – soon became the mother of all disagreements.

Seventeen years ago, as part of my efforts to be the “perfect” mom, I adopted other women’s examples of what raising children “should be,” even if it didn’t resonate with me.  Man, was that exhausting.  I had rules up the wazoo and fought to keep them in place.  And the boys fought back.

But eight months ago the blinders dropped to my feet and I found that I had forgotten to preach what I practiced.  The solution was so simple.

Let them be.

Which is exactly how I prefer to be treated.  I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or telling me what path to choose, so why should I do that to my boys?  Sure, my body may be older, but my children’s souls are just as experienced as mine.   These boys aren’t mine in the possession sense.  From a spiritual point of view, I don’t have the right to put borders around their spirits and make them the exact image that society or even I believe to be true.   I’m here to guide them, not mold them.  They know who they need to be.  Besides, what a waste of time when quite possibly after 18 years, they’re going to do and be what they want anyway.  I know I did.

It is my belief that we come into this existence knowing what our life path is.  The road map has already been printed up, although our free will sometimes overrides that map and takes us on some wild side trips.   When we truly deviate off that path,though, it doesn’t go unnoticed.  Don’t we feel the discord when we want to go one direction and someone tries to convince us otherwise? Especially if the only source of righteousness is in their own mind?  Or what about compromising on something we truly believe in?

My mother pushed me to go to college because it was what I “should” do, yet all I did was spin my wheels, lost a lot of brain cells, and ran up a student loan that never should have been.  Besides, halfway through the first year I realized I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  This is one area I won’t push my boys on.  No amount of lecturing is going to make this the right choice for them.  True motivation must come from them.  Otherwise it becomes my job to keep them going, a burden that will have us both resentful.

In the months past, I’ve gotten a clearer view of who my boys really are.  Without the shoulds masking their true source, I’ve been able to appreciate their way of thinking.  I’m beginning to understand what makes them tick and why they don’t fit into the boxes I’ve been trying to put them in.

Sex, drinking, drugs, school, safety, curfew – those are issues I will never compromise on.  Honestly, though, I have no control over their ultimate decisions on those topics, but I’ve made damn sure they know what the consequences are if they deviate from my “recommendations.”  So, armed with that information, it’s their decision as to what outcome they desire.

Some may think this is the wrong approach or the lazy way to parent, but it is actually very difficult at times.  To stand back and watch their actions put in motion a set of reactions (whether they be mine or someone else’s) makes me want to peek out from behind splayed fingers.  It’s nothing short of a challenge to stay back and let them do damage control.  On the flip side, when they are really thinking it out and the outcome is in their favor?  It’s awesome.

It felt good to finally release the ties, because forcing the boys to do what they clearly do not want to do didn’t resonate with what I was all about – freedom of choice and independence. I’ve let my boys make choices of when to go to sleep (though the connection between late nights and being tired the next day still hasn’t sunk in), meals, what school classes to take, and friends.  As long as safety isn’t an issue and they’re not hurting others, I’m good.

Which might explain why they gravitate to me and not to the “other.”  That “coolness” factor I seem to have with the boys and their friends is, I believe, actually the elation they experience when they connect with who they are.

Think about the people we tend to gravitate toward – those who speak to and understand our souls.  Not those who contradict or repress our fires, but those who stoke it, feed it, and encourage it to rise.

My boys’ path is their own.  I’ll be there to dust off their knees, put a band-aid on a broken heart, give them advice on hangover cures, and I’ll give them room to fly, because they’ll need it to get over the Grand Canyon-size crevasse of thought that yawns between “the other half” and me.

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About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on July 11, 2012, in Family, Freedom of speech, Growing Up, Life Lessons, Parents, Personal, Relationships, Teenager, Uncategorized, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. prudencemacleod

    Indeed you have dropped the blinders and, in so doing, set your own soul free as well. Congrats. I do applaud you and encourage you to follow your heart to the path you chose before manifesting in this realm in the first place. May your journey be blessed.

    • Thank you, Prudence, for your encouraging words. This has been freeing and totally resonates with me as well. As soul mates, my boys and I need to work with each other, not against. This has definitely been a good thing.

  2. August McLaughlin

    Lovely, thought-provoking post. I believe we know early on where our hearts wish to lead us. Sometimes life and decisions get in the way, but challenges strengthen us if we allow them to.

  3. Wow–it takes a brave soul to release another. Bravo.

  4. Beautiful and so well said Diana!!
    The other day I was just reminding someone very close to me of that very same thing. They were getting quite judgemental about someone else’s choices and were quite vocal, even to that person. In the end, I reminded them that there are 50 different ways to get to the same end result of being happy, healthy and fulfilled and although we each know and advocate for the path we learned (which is normal), in the end you have to LET GO and support someone else finding their own path – because that is half the journey! It’s not always easy watching someone you love go about it a way in which you think will be the hard or tough road but it’s their choice…their will…and the best thing any of us can do sometimes is just shut up and say “GO FOR IT…and I am here with unconditional love and support and I hope all your dreams come true…”
    Amen to your new-found parenting style…it’ll be amazing to watch the boys discover their own path and journey in life…

    • Thank you, Natalie. You’re absolutely right! There are so many ways to get from point A to point B and we should never judge someone else’s method of travel. After all, they have to face their decisions on their own. It’s hard enough to walk the walk without worrying about being judged about it.

  5. Sadly, I’m seeing myself doing the same thing – of course they are only 5 and have no business making too many choices on their own, but I will need to take this to heart (and save it to my favorites) to continually look back on so I remember this valuable lesson when I need to start snipping the apron strings. Thanks for sharing this wonderful revelation, Diana!

  6. I wish I would have had this essay during the 25 years of counseling practice that I could hand clients struggling with parental issues. This is good psychology, good parenting, and good human relations. I love your way of writing and i love your way of promoting the liberty and growth of others, whether as parents or as loving humans. Great blog.

  7. Oh my gosh. This blog brought tears to my eyes. You are such a beautiful, spiritual being and amazing mother. Your boys are so very blessed to have you as their mom. Wow.

  8. I read once that a child’s spirit and attitude are set by the age of 12. I think it’s true although they may scare you through the teens. An example and not a stick is a powerful tool. What a great post, Diana. Your boys are lucky to have you!

    • Thank you, Dannie. I agree with you. My youngest at 13 is a great example of that. I’m learning to follow his lead a little bit more. My oldest was the same. I just didn’t see it back then. But better late than never. Hugs to you, my friend. 🙂

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  10. Hi Diana. Although I DO appreciate your take on raising your boys [perhaps I’m not entirely understanding your philosophy here], I must just say this: In my opinion, leaving kids, teens, etc, to their own decisions only does a great disservice to them. When I was 11, 12, etc, I could go out till all hours of the night. I had no [enforced] curfew. My dad joked about us boys “getting some pu**y from girls; like he was some sort of buddy instead of a DAD! In short, he wasn’t firm enough of a dad to us–but then again, he worked a lot. Nevertheless.

    But you DID say you’re there to guide your boys, so great for you! My mom committed suicide when I was 8. My dad had 6 boys to take care of and worked a lot. But I later learned from my most successful brother that our dad told him one time [upon my brother’s inquiry] he let us go our own way(s) “just to see what [we’d] do.” Like it was all some experiment! I mean, wtf?

    I can tell you I have struggled MAJORLY in my life due to my dad never sitting me down to discuss whether or not my choices were very pragmatic. Having grown up with virtually ZERO parental guidance, I have ever since had trouble knowing what to do with my life–because I never knew what I SHOULD want, you know? Now, I am NOT criticizing you for your methods, but I think it bears mentioning that leaving kids to their own devices is not generally wise. I do think you love your boys and give them much needed feedback and periodic steering…I just wanted to add my thoughts. Thanks. 🙂

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