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Parenting: When to hold on and when to let go

One of the most important aspects to parenting comes in the form of letting go. While newborns require the experience of attachment, as children get older, parents must face the sometimes painful task of creating healthy separation from their children. And while newborns come into this world completely dependent upon others for their survival, as they grow up, they must learn to separate and individuate. This is the cycle of life. This is the unique quality that parent-child relationships have.

Children at different stages of development require different levels of separation and independence. Sound judgment and common sense often lead the way. Better yet, reading a great parenting book or following a great blog (no personal accolades intended :-)) can help give you the information you need to support you along the way. It doesn't matter if you stumble. What matters is that you understand the importance in preparing your children for adulthood in age appropriate ways. In other words, don't unconsciously protect your children from growing up. Don't enable them to stay dependent, insecure, and fearful. Your job is to support and make choices that lend themselves toward helping your children become independent and live a great life. 

And believe it or not, this starts from the very beginning. Babies need the space to crawl and explore their environment. Toddlers need the freedom to learn that actions have consequences. School aged kids need to discover how the world works and their place within it. And adolescents need to know that they have the confidence and competence to go and make a life for themselves.

Letting go and allowing your children to make and learn from their own choices is fundamental. Encouraging your children to take risks, stretch and grow is vital. Modeling the art of separating and letting go is mandated.

So why is separating from our children so difficult for so many?

Here are just a few of the multitude of reasons why parents hang on—too long!!

If you find it difficult to separate from your children or allow your children to separate from you, you might identify with one or more of the following dynamics:

  • Your identity relies too heavily on your role as parent
  • Your feelings of self-worth are tied up into who your children are and what your children do
  • You do not have enough meaningful activities and purpose in your life that feed you as an adult (other than your role as parent)
  • Your marriage depends on your roles as parents and letting go would threaten the relationship
  • Your need to control your children's lives override the need for your children to learn how to manage their own lives
  • You are attached to the idea that your children should be happy and avoid suffering at all cost.
  • Your fears that something bad will happen to your children outweigh your children's fundamental needs for understanding and dealing with the realities of life.
  • Your children keep your world small and safe.
  • You enjoy spending time with your children so much that you begin so see them as your companion and friend, forgoing what you really need to do for them as their parent.

I know I may sound a bit rough but I do so in the name of tough love (which may be what more of you need when it comes to parenting your children). But here's the reality. When you learn the art of separating and letting go, you give yourself and your children the gift of life—truly.  Here are just a few of the gifts that come along with these rites of passage. 

  • Your children gain confidence and mastery of life skills.
  • You learn how to manage your fears and anxieties and teach your children the same by example.
  • You indirectly communicate to them that you have confidence in who they are as human beings.
  • You believe in them, support them, and love them unconditionally.
  • You are a role model for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
  • You have a full balanced life that is fed and nurtured from many sources.
  • You stay in your own power; you encourage your children to do the same.
  • Mutual respect is created.
  • You teach your children the realities of life and the value in living a life based on honesty, integrity and courage.
  • You set the foundation for becoming a mentor, coach and hero to your children.
  • You experience the joy in watching your children fly.
  • You have the opportunity to take flight in new ways, setting new heights, soaring to new places, yourself.

So next time you find yourself wanting to over-control, manage, protect, and hold tight, remember what you signed up for—whether you realized it or not.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their role as parents, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm here to help. Your relationship with your children is one of the most precious and important relationships you will ever have. I provide personalized guidance and coaching. And if you want to start right now, go and purchase The Pathway to Love at-home program. You don’t need to wait. You can begin the process today. Take advantage of the opportunity receive the support and guidance you deserve. 

As always, I’m here to support you in creating strong and intimate relationships. 

Be well,


P.S. And don't forget to catch my radio/TV show Pathways to Love w'Julie Orlov LIVE every Sunday 1:30pm PST on LATalkLive!

Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery

Retrieve Your FREE Relationship Assessment Quiz and see if YOUR Relationship is on track at www.julieorlov.com/quiz

Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com

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