parent opinion

"It's time to let go of the reins." The struggle of letting your children go.

There comes a time when you simply have to let go of your children

But how? After all the years of coddling, reminding, reassuring, checking, remembering, nagging, and stress, letting go is not an easy task for a parent. 

The endless supply of support is what parents usually feel they are required to provide as their child grows from infancy towards the teen years and even beyond. 

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Frankly, some children are just born more independent than others and some will always seem to need several reminders to put that homework in the backpack, to get going on that project, or to clean up after themselves up until they are young adults. 

Many parents understandably fear that if they let go of the reins they’ve always clutched so tightly onto and allow their children to make their own decisions in life, they will get a taste of that real world that is waiting for them — and that taste may not be pleasant at all. 

But an unpleasant spoonful is just the beginning of many of the challenges our children will need to overcome in life. The truth is there is that there is no trick to letting go other than just doing it. It’s kind of like sky-diving. Terrifying and exhilarating. 


Letting go is an art form. You get more creative with the different ways to express it as you go along but even if you had a certain idea about how the finished product will look in the end — it may still surprise you with how it actually comes to fruition. 

Letting go in parenting is the same. Remember when we were children and we had fears about the dark, or about strange noises, but we perhaps had NO FEAR about jumping off the swings or climbing up to high places? That is a gift of nature that we parents need to remember. A good portion of us who are now parents are seasoned human beings with lots of history under our belts. 

We’ve travelled, worked different types of jobs, and many of us have gone through serious life-altering experiences. Most of us have a great stash of lessons learned to teach our children the wisdom they need. 

The only problem with that is that — those are not our children’s experiences, they are ours. Our children are going to have their senses filled with massive amounts of joy and enormous feelings of heartache, just as we did — but on their own terms. 

That’s the beauty of life. Don’t let them miss out on that stuff because you can’t or won’t let go. Our children have experiences waiting for them that are not going to be the same for them as they were for us.

There is no way to truly teach your child how to deal with any given situation solely by handing down our lessons learned. These lessons have to be taught to our children by the world in which they go out.

And those lessons may not be as kind or as careful as we wish they could be. Such is the agony of parenting. Of course, precautions like teaching stranger danger or basic safety should always be kept in mind as your children grow from toddlers into young adults, but that fearless curiosity and raw desire to be free that we all experienced as children is a sensation unique to childhood which we will never experience again in this lifetime. 


As parents, we need to remember what that feels like and trust that nature designed our children to be that way for a reason. So they can learn. Teaching your children that they are responsible for themselves is the most beneficial gift you can give them for the future. 

It will hurt you, as a parent, to watch them live and learn by the consequences of their actions. But isn’t that life? If you can arm your children with the experience of dealing with consequences, you will be saving them years of shock and confusion in their lives after they leave the nest. 

As a parent, you feel responsible for your children. You want to protect them. You want to shield them from pain. That said, it will not hurt your children to allow them to deal with the sometimes unpleasant consequences of their actions. 

They will grow from it, and they will be better for it. As parents, we already know the hurt our children will feel from making a mistake — because we’ve been there. 

But our children deserve the opportunity to explore all kinds of emotions, good or bad. The art of letting your children make their own mistakes is a slow, sometimes agonising process that will get easier over time. Choosing when to allow them to go for it and when to stop them takes practice and experience too. 


There are still going to be practical dangers that you’ll have to protect your children from as they grow up. But when it comes to letting them make their own life choices, you’ll see the confidence and the wisdom they start to gain from making those choices on their own. 

Once you realise that your children are actually capable of making their own decisions and muddling through the consequences of those decisions themselves, you will see your children in a different light. 

They will think more carefully after falling down with their missteps, and they will feel the satisfaction that comes with feeling capable of making better choices in the future. It’s tough to let your child exercise their right to exist and fall down many, many times. 

But is this not why your children are here? To live, experience, laugh, cry, and learn how to survive in this world?

Whether you do your best to shelter your children from the real world or you let them practice making their own mistakes early on in life, that big, complicated, and often confusing place we call our world is still going to be out there, waiting for them.

Feature Image: Getty.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. The feature image used is a stock image.

Michelle is a writer, partner, lover, mother, & stepmother living in California. You can find her blogs on parenting,
stepparenting, life & relationships, at, her blended family podcast, and more of her articles at