Letting Go

As the mom or dad of a son or daughter who struggles with an addiction, depression or some other mental health issue, cutting, an eating disorder, is in trouble with the law, same sex identity issue, or any other self-destructive behavior  you know how hard it is to let go.  Letting go is one of the things that will help us keep our sanity yet one of the most difficult to actually do!  I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my last blog when I talked about learning to live with an unsolved problem.

Letting go — loosening your grip, relaxing your hold, releasing control.   Sometimes it helps to understand  something when you have a better understanding of what it’s not.  So, what is the opposite of letting go?  It’s tightening your grip until your knuckles are white; its holding on with a death-grip and clenched fists; it’s being controlling and overly involved because you have to have something.   Think of a child who won’t let go of a toy.  Been there?  It can also be enabling – being too helpful, doing for someone something they can and should do for themselves.  If you are doing these things I have two words for you, STOP IT!  Step back, take a deep breath and RELEASE!

This doesn’t mean we don’t care and it’s not being unloving.   We will always be there for our son or daughter and will do everything in our power to help them when they are ready to change.  Notice the key words in bold print!  Of course it’s hard to know if they are, and at times we may be fooled and taken advantage of.  Sometimes you just have to give them a chance and see what happens.   If they weren’t being honest, hopefully we’ll learn from our mistake and make a better decision the next time we have the opportunity.

I think the difficulty in letting go is tied in with our fear.  It has been for me.  I was so afraid for  my daughter that I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her go.  I  didn’t know how to let her go!  If  I did, what might happen?   I loved her so much . . . how do you let go of all of that fear and worry for this child you would give your very life for?

For me, learning to let go has happened in incremental baby steps (a phrase I’ve borrowed from the movie What About Bob? with Bill Murray.  (If you need a good laugh it’s a riot!)  It has been a slow process of giving her over to the care of God, my  Higher Power, and allowing Him to work in her life as He sees best.   Because I believe that He is loving and good,  I am confident that He loves her even more than I do.  This gives me great peace and comfort.  Although I do know it is not a guarantee that things will turn out like I want them to — it doesn’t mean bad things won’t ever happen.  They have happened.  All the things I tried to protect her from did happen.  But I have learned to let her go and to let go of what it was doing to me.  Now I can let go of fear, of worry, of sleepless nights, of trying to fix, of rescuing, of protecting from painful consequences.  Those consequences may be exactly what is needed to bring about a desire for change!

Letting go is one of the most loving things you can do — for yourself and for your child!  Renee, my daughter, even wrote a song about letting go!  Maybe you will hear her sing it when her CD comes out, hopefully by the end of the summer!

Here are a few bible verses that help me when I am struggling to let go:

“Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV)

“Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties and all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you.”  (I Peter 5:7 Amplified)

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6 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. I do agree a little of what your saying,and there’s a few things I don’t.letting go is very scary I’m a single father of a 17 year old and a 19 year old daughters and I tried the give them some space and let them learn.well, things started to get really dangerous and I had to force control because I’m trying to save there life.the crazy thing is they been threw a lot of serious things that you and I or other normal people would of caught on by now!! They weren’t raised that way and and whole lot of it comes from internet,tv,school,so called friends. I never had the internet and all the other things they hav, so it took longer for those crazy ideas to come to us now its at the tip of there fingers ..television today is so disappointing everything is about sex,or it teaches them if your not happy quit and say f it…nobody stays together 80% of the kids in school hav a step mom or a step dad….? I know god is good and he has a plan for all of us and I do need to continue to keep trust in him….

    • Thank you for your comments! Yes, letting go is VERY scary and can become dangerous if your child insists on continuing in their risky behaviors. (personally, I think its even more frightening when its a daughter, and you have two!) If they are under 18 then sometimes I think you do need to step in and get more involved to save their lives. Even if they are over 18 you may choose to do something more drastic — like calling 911or the police to have them Baker Acted if you think they are at risk of suicide, or planning an intervention if they have a problem with drugs/alcohol. I would rather have my child be mad at me and be alive than not. Each situation is unique and we as their parents can only do the best that we can. After all, none of us has ever done this before and there’s no rule book for us to follow that says when this happens do this or that! I sure wish there was! And yes, it is a hard time to raise children. They are exposed to so much that we never were. They need supernatural help and we do, too! God give you wisdom and strength as you find your way through these deep waters.

  2. Wonderful! There are always a million reasons why “letting go” isn’t for “our situation right now.” But the truth is we were never really in control in the first place. Only just enough to feel like we can breath, maybe to sleep a few hours a night.

    Letting go doesn’t mean “out of control” as you have said, but purposing to place all our trust in the hands of our Lord who NEVER lets go. Still pretty difficult – a minute by minute endeavor – but absolutely necessary for both our health ans the long-term well-being of the ones we love.

    Thank you Dena. You are a blessing!

  3. I have a 17 year old wayward girl and just recently God told me to let go and give her to him. I can tell you that my heart just aches so much right now. However your words have brought hope and God is good. Thank you and God bless you

    • I am so sorry, Elaine. I know it is so painful and frightening to let go when you do not know where or how it will end. Be patient with yourself. It is a process. God is indeed so good to connect us with the right people and resources we need right when we need it! God bless you as you give her back to him. May he help you trust him more and more each day.
      Here is a great verse to comfort you: “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my lost sheep.” (Ezekiel 34: 11 – 12)