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If you love them, let them go.

I happened to be home yesterday at the time the Dr. Phil show aired.

The issue of the day? Outrageous parenting styles. In particular, the over-protective parent.

A mom who flosses her 20 year old daughter’s teeth? Does her kids’ homework? Sure sounds overprotective to me. Although I do try hard not to judge. I’ve been the target of an accusatory finger and, as a result, I choose to refrain from judgement whenever possible.

So I listened. Knowing there had to be more to her story.

Using his usual bulldog strategy to break through someone’s excuses, Dr. Phil pushed and pushed and pushed until he finally said to her: “You say you are all they have. When the truth is they are all YOU have.”

At that point, the mother crumpled into tears.

Dr. Phil kept on with his point: He’s an empty-nester. Robin is an empty-nester. We’ll all be empty-nesters at some point.

She sobbed that she’s a single mother, then argued that the empty nest isn’t as difficult for a married couple because they have each other.

At that moment, every fiber of my being ached for this woman.

I know her fear.

I know her uncertainty.

I know the loneliness she senses around the corner.

I will likely be a single empty-nester too.

And I’m afraid of not being needed. I’m afraid of being lonely. I’m uncertain about what my empty nest will look like.

Barbara Kingsolver quote on parenting But I. Will. Not. Hold. Them. Back.

I will not let my fears keep them from having a life of their own.

I joke all the time that if we don’t let our children grow up, then they’ll sit on a couch in our basement until they’re 40 playing video games and wiping orange Cheeto dust on their shirts.

I want my boys to grow up.

I want them to craft their own lives.

I want to be alone.

Because if I end up alone, I will have raised them to be independent, capable young men.

I will have succeeded.

I love them. I will let them go.

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