All birds have to leave the nest or they will die. Our kids have to find their own lives too. They are going to leave. It's not a matter of if they will leave. It's a matter of when AND how well prepared will they be when they do. Letting our kids go is a challenge not only for parents but for coaches too. We know and like these kids. For all of us, parents and coaches alike, they represent our hope for a bright future and by the time they leave, we might consider them our friends. We've shared history together and there will come a time, very soon, when they start a history that doesn't include us.Like any skill, letting our kids go is a process that starts earlier than most people think and it takes practice for most of us to get better at.
The ever-changing challenge of Letting Our Kids Go
Did you notice that I said it takes practice to get better at letting go? I didn't say it takes practice to master. At the time I recorded this, I leave room for the possibility that the skill of letting go can be mastered, but I don't know of anyone who has mastered it. Letting go isn't a binary thing. There are degrees of letting go. Letting our kids go off to school for the first time might be one example. Letting them cross the street by themselves might be another. I pulled my car over and cried the first time I dropped my oldest child off at a daycare center. Not only was I letter her go in the care of another person, but I was letting go of the notion that the stay-at-home parenting style I saw my mother doing would be a possibility in our family. My kids would never know that. We were inviting surrogate parents in to watch over them during the day so my wife and I could work.I personally believe we are forever learning to let go, and the challenges aren't necessarily harder as our kids get older, but they are definitely different. As a parent, once you think you've overcome one form of letting go, a whole new way to let go presents itself. I suppose we'll be learning how to let go until the moment we die. Even then, we'll be facing the prospect of letting ourselves and our loved ones go in a whole different way.
Detachment Parenting - The Start of Letting Our Kids Go
In the context of youth sports and parenting (or coaching) our way through the youth sports "window" between 3 yrs old and 18-years-old, letting our kids go has a specific meaning. As parents, we must learn to detach from our kids so they can have a shot at making their own mistakes (nature's best teacher) and living their own lives. Kids who are sheltered from adversity or never allowed to make mistakes will enter the world weak and unable to effectively deal with risk or adversity. This is one of the big reasons we created the youth sports platform in the first place - to give kids a safe platform where they can be challenged, makes mistakes, and overcome adversity. Building a foundation with our kids is important. This is referred to as Attachment Parenting by Dr. Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D. Learning how to let go and empower kids to live their own lives is called Detachment Parenting.If the child psychologist, Carl E Pickhardt, is to be believed, the detachment parenting phase begins when kids turn nine years old. He says we start letting our kids go this early! Of course, we're not tossing them the car keys when they turn 9, but we can let them go play a game and make their own decisions! We can encourage our kids to get involved in some of the decisions that affect them in life, then supporting their decisions to the extent possible - assuming, of course, that safety is under control. Letting our kids go is something we need to practice. It will not come naturally. From the time our kids were born until they were 8 years old, we pretty much do everything for them. We even pick out their clothes. Once they turn 9 though, it might be time they can start picking out their own clothes. Even if they look ridiculous to our more mature sensibilities,
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