Letting go and letting God
we allow our children to grow up
by Dr. Cathleen McGreal
are not extensions of us; they are unique
pour our hearts into our children, hoping that
our parenting decisions are for the best. Before
we know it, they start making choices of their
own and we have to start pulling back. “Not this
first Communion dress. It feels itchy.” (But
it’s just what I always pictured.) “This year,
I’m putting my hair in a pony tail for picture
day.” (But we won’t be able to tell how long and
pretty it is!) “Soccer practice overlaps with
football, so I’m giving up soccer.” (I had him
pegged for a soccer scholarship.) “This time we
broke up for good.” (I was sure she would be our
daughter-in-law.) “I’m taking early retirement.”
(What? I just retired myself last year!)
Our children are not extensions of us; they are
unique individuals. Whether it is feeling
irrational shame for a child’s inexcusable
behavior, intense pride for another’s
accomplishments or the desire to over-control,
being a parent can be challenging at times. How
do we detach from our children’s behaviors?
When do we know it’s time to let go?
Your children are God’s children!
The Baltimore Catechism stated, “God made me to
know him, to love him, and to serve him in this
world, and to be happy with him forever in
heaven.” As parents, we cannot pull our children
down paths of our choosing, assuming we know
God’s plans for them. “Children … contribute to
the growth in holiness of their parents.” (CCC
#2227) One reason is because we must trust in
God; we just aren’t sure how everything is going
to turn out! We pray, “If today you hear God’s
voice, harden not your hearts.” We teach our
children to pray and to listen for God’s voice.
Then we must let them learn how respond to God
in their daily lives under our guidance.
Feeling a bit over-invested in a child’s
Ask yourself “why?” Are you trying to make up
for experiences that you didn’t have as a child?
Or do you want to make sure your children don’t
feel the heartbreaks that you did? Just as we
can’t raise children in a germ-free world, we
can’t free them from emotional pain - and
shouldn’t help them avoid the consequences of
bad decisions. We can model how to be followers
of Jesus even when we are faced with life
experiences that trouble us.
Email questions and comments to: