Here’s how the game plays out in my head:
“Let him do it.”
“But, what if he…?”
“Stop talking. Stop giving guidance and walk away!”
“But, but, but…”
“Just walk away!”
This week, my son and I have both been on a learning journey. He’s learning to become self-reliant and I’m learning to let go. I haven’t quite figured out which one us is struggling the most with this, but I’m fairly positive it’s me.
It’s much more difficult to keep my mouth shut and not offer guidance, than I thought it would be. In the meantime, he’s doing great! He’s learned to wash his dishes and put them away. He’s even learned to prepare his own meals from the very first step all the way through to the last.
Today while he prepared his lunch, I had to force myself to leave the room and not come back until he was done, so that he could do everything on his own, without me butting in. Keeping myself distracted in a different room, I listened as he worked and nervously wondered what the kitchen would look like upon my return.
After a few minutes the noise stopped, so I felt safe to resurface. Turning the corner, I was thrilled at what he had accomplished. He had prepared his lunch perfectly and even spruced it up with all the fixin’s. His meal and utensils were neatly organized on the table, and there were no messes in sight. He did great! I’m so proud of him.
Letting go is hard, and I’ve been holding on for way too long. I’ve used the fact that my son is autistic as an excuse to shelter him, to protect him. It wasn’t until last week that I realized this, or rather, that it was pointed out to me, and for that I am grateful. My son needs to grow. He needs to become self-reliant and the only way that he’ll learn, is by me letting go.
As a parent, letting go of your child and teaching them to become independent is something that no one can prepare you for. From their infancy, we nurture and protect them. Then what feels like suddenly, they become teenagers. We can still care for them and we should, but we have to learn to care from a distance.
We have to learn to let them learn on their own, no matter how many times they fall. That’s hard to do! However, it’s something we must do. Otherwise, we will sentence them to a future of dependency on others.
“Every human being is born with the potential to become the world’s most capable creature.” ~ Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen
What should we instill in our children so that they can become successful adults?
I found this list to be very helpful. It is referred to as the Significant Seven.
1. I am confident of my personal capability when faced with challenges.
2. I believe I am personally significant and make meaningful contributions.
3. I have a positive influence over my life; I take responsibility for my choices.
4. I have strong intrapersonal skills and I manage my emotions through self-awareness and self-discipline.
5. I have strong interpersonal skills and I am able to effectively communicate, negotiate, and empathize with others.
6. I am able to adapt with flexibility and integrity, I have strong systemic skills.
7. I have well developed judgment skills and able to make decisions with integrity.
If we instill those beliefs in our children, then their future will be built on a solid foundation. Isn’t that what we want for them? I do. My son can be, or do anything that he sets his mind to do. If I can continue to let go, then he’ll succeed.
In the meantime, I’m not going to lie. It’s still a game of tug of war. Everyday will be a new challenge, for both of us.