Holding On and Letting Go at 17

Raising teenagers is a combination of Go! and Whoa!

You want them to go and take on more responsibility and become more independent.  Go and achieve their academic, creative and athletic goals. Go and tackle challenges and opportunities with courage.

Yet there are times when being more independent seems as if they’re leaving their parents’ opinions, values, advice, and worldview behind. Then we, the guardians of their foundation and architects of their development (second to God), want to cry, “Whoa there! Where do you think you’re going?”

Where, indeed? If only we knew! 

We want success and happiness for them.  We want a guarantee that they will make the right decisions, choose goodness, and always be okay no matter how far away they roam from us or who they invite to accompany them on that road.

We want to feel assured that we did our best in raising them, equipping them with all the soft and hard skills they need to forge their way in this beautiful world.  Did we do enough to help them understand how vital their faith and their relationship with God is?

I’m reflecting on these conundrums of holding on and letting go, because my son Berto is 17. Perhaps it’s too soon to worry about next year when he’ll be an adult heading off to college, but I can’t help it. I confess: I’m scared to let him go.

Photo courtesy of Hillary Ibarra

Sure, there are times when I look forward to him being responsible for his own schedule, transportation, and even faith life.  But it also worries me. What paths will he take? What values will he choose to defend in a confusing world full of relativism? Who will he choose to be his honorary tribe out there? 

And will he be cautious but also bold as he travels from place to place, novel experience to novel experience?

Hillary Ibarra
Hillary Ibarrahttps://hillaryibarra.com/
Hillary Ibarra is a faith and humor writer and the author of  The Christmas List, an inspirational holiday novella based on real events. She plays guitar, bakes, hugs trees, and firmly believes that everything in life is better with Jesus. She writes about faith and family life at HillaryIbarra.com.

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