1 October 2014 10:37 am
By Chandi Perera
Letting go, can be a painful exercise, when we have brought up our children with great love and care. At the same time, among other things, it may be one of the best testimonies to our love for them, when we let go of them, at the appropriate time.
"When my son married and left home, I was in pieces for three months. My daughter in law didn’t much help the process either. For whatever reason, I felt she held my son back from his family. After three months I realised if my son continued to be the son that he was before marriage, it was up to him. There was no point crying over a son who didn’t care to call, at least once a month”, says Thiyara. “In the process, I learnt one of the best lessons in life. However much I loved him, there comes a time that I have to totally take my hands off my children. It does not mean I stop caring. A mother will care until she is safely in the grave – but there are many situations, especially when the children are married that are beyond the hands of any parent. So, I stopped myself from grieving over a loss and thought of it as gain – I had gained a daughter and also, my freedom. It is up to my daughter in law as to how much of a daughter she wants to be. No matter what, I remain the mother”.
Tough but true
In The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie paints a beautiful picture in words. She says, “Letting go helps us to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress.” How true!
As parents, we are used to taking charge, taking control and smoothening out any situation that comes the way of our children, when they are young. As they grow into adulthood, some of us still believe that we should put our foot into every situation that our children encounter. That probably is the best formula, if we are breeding irresponsible adults who cannot face life’s situations on their own. Sensible parents will sometimes, allow their growing children to handle situations that they can safely handle themselves. This is the start of letting go.
At times, it will break our hearts to know that our children are handling a difficult situation. It will do good for us to know that great strength comes from ‘handling an adversity right’, not that every situation will work out for our benefit. Holding onto things that we should safely let go, is not great strength.
In the same vein, a sensible and a sensitive parent will know when to let go of their children – not that caring stops, let me reiterate. When a married child lives at home, it will be best, that the married couple handles their day to day lives on their own. Mothers are spontaneous helpers. What they have been doing for decades is not easily forgotten. It will however, do well for both parties concerned to know that now the child has established a nucleus to a new entity and let it be so. Unless asked for, help and opinions of parents should be to a minimum.
“Our marriage was hell on earth, as her mother was always around wherever in the house we were. I was not financially sound enough to live on our own and the house was hers’ anyway. So we lived there. With the house, came the mother. She never latched onto the fact that her daughter was now married and I am there to take care of her daughter. Every morning, we got up to my mother in law’s knock on our door. Bringing a glass of milk to my wife! Can you imagine! My wife didn’t want to hurt the mother who took care of her since her father’s death and I had to patiently bear it up. There came a time, I couldn’t do it any further and I packed my bags and left”. A sad story indeed, of a good hearted man, still in love with his wife.
So, at what point in time do we let go of our children? A sensitive parent will know the timing. If we know our children well and have cultivated a close bond with them, we will definitely know, when to let go.
Beauty in life is when we as parents can love our children with detachment. Would you agree? Detachment shows our children that they are responsible for their lives – when they are able to take responsibility. It also gives them a satisfaction to know that their parents trust them with correct judgment and have confidence that they can manage things on their own. We stay on the side lines and cheer them on. Help them, if they ask for it.
Love them through life – but let go, on time.
(All names are fictitious)