This is the second in our series, When Children Grow Up. In our first post, I talked about how fully feeling your feelings allows you to become more vulnerable, whole hearted, and present. You can see your child more clearly as they are right now without the murkiness of unconsciously viewing them as they were at a younger age. It is easy to begin talking yourself out of what you feel. If you find yourself thinking “this is what kids are supposed to do at this age” or “this is what we raised them for,” you may be over-riding your feelings. Those thoughts are absolutely true, and so are the feelings that you have. It is important to feel them.
The first post concluded by saying, “Being vulnerable and feeling the sadness, anger, fear, hurt, and happiness allowed me to realize that this isn’t about letting go but about choosing a new way to be as we step into this brave, new world.” Why isn’t it about “letting go” when so many people say things like “you just have to let go”? If it isn’t “letting go,” what is it? Is it giving up something? How do you “choose a new way to be”?
First, let’s clarify the difference between letting go and giving up. Letting go is conscious and self-driven. You aren’t intending to change anything; you let it go so that it no longer disrupts you and so that you gain greater serenity. You sever an attachment. You may choose to take new action after letting go.
On the other hand, there is something about giving up that creates resistance. A friend once compared it to losing weight. Your body doesn’t want to lose anything; therefore, when your goal is to lose weight, there is an inherent resistance that self-sabotages even your best planned diet. There is acceptance, though, if your intention is getting healthy. In getting healthy, you gain something. Giving up also has the feel of being a victim, almost as if there were no choice. That creates great reluctance where there is no inspiring, forward moving energy.
Even though letting go may sound positive – and you can let go of seeing and treating your child as a child – I prefer the concept of embracing a new way of being in which you gain something. All of those parts of you as a parent – from the time you first held your baby up until today – are still within you. Letting go implies that you need to let them float away or set them aside. That is terribly painful to even consider! Giving up feels even worse!
In inner child work in which you heal early wounds, you love and accept all parts of you. In the same way, you can embrace, treasure, and integrate all of those aspects of you that you’ve loved in being a parent. You can embrace them without clinging to them or fearing their absence in the here and now.
Also, within you are all of the parts of you from your own childhood. They serve you. You can embrace them, as your child embraces their own. You are not asking your child to let them go or give them up, either. I am not talking about limiting beliefs here. Limiting beliefs served you as a child and may be getting in your way as an adult.
Love and accept those former ways of being as a parent and recognize that they are not current. How do you then embrace a new way of being so that you are present and not holding fast to a past that no longer exists? Next time, we will explore the steps to doing that! A cliffhanger!