Standing on the Sidelines as My Boy Becomes a Man

It’s been a full week. To the naked eye it seems like things are normal but as I listened to my heart I realized I am holding on to my emotional strings tightly, trying to hold things together.

Big transitions are happening at our house this summer and I can’t keep the moments in my hands. 

Some moments in life are so routine, we hurry them on. Some moments are so big we don’t realize what they are until they’re past, never to return.

This is one of those big-moment times.

First we moved the girl to the mission field, and now I’m releasing my second son as we move him to college for the first time. Somehow I feel like he left a long time ago even though he’s in his bed every night. I don’t want it any different because I don’t want my sons tied to my apron strings.  My son’s grown into a capable leader, a responsible young man, and a role model to those he’s mentored in sports.

Somewhere in the last six yearsI let go of his hand as it grew bigger so he could make decisions on his own and develop into the man he’s created to be.

As I let go of his hand, I’ve learned to stand on the sidelines and be there when needed while allowing him to stand on his own.

I grew up in a family with all girls.  My firstborn is a girl. Releasing boys is different. I don’t want to hover. But I also don’t want to give a firm hand-shake and say, “Have a nice life, son.”

Girls come back to their mamas a little more when they’re older for wisdom and insight, at least mine has. Boys rightfully seek wisdom from other male figures as they get older.  Mamas of boys learn their roles change as boys leave their nest. We silently sew part of ourselves into their heart whether they realize it or not. Wherever he goes, his mama will always be there. Part of her heart ripped out, attached to his for safe keeping.

So today I’m a mess as I join the ranks of millions of moms who’ve sent their sons off on their own – to the military, to college, to the home they’re making with their chosen girl or to pursue their dreams in a distant place.

yoder boys feat

I rest in knowing I’ve worked hard at making time for little-big moments along the way.

  • Moments when he needed to talk
  • Moments when he needed me to stand beside him instead of in front of him
  • Moments when I stood my ground for his character training
  • Moments when I sat in the dark and cried because he couldn’t.

I rest in knowing he’s chosen good friends and mentors who’ve helped him sift through the things I may never know about.

For a few days yet, I’ll let myself cry. I’ll move to the next phase with this child while holding a little tighter to the son I still have at home. His time will be here soon.

Like Aerosmith, I don’t want to miss a thing.

How about you?  How do you capture moments, make transitions with your child, and let go? What have been your experiences?  We’d love to hear your journey as you’ve released boys or  your children who are ready to fly.


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Brenda Yoder
Brenda L. Yoder, LMHC, is a national speaker, writer, life coach, and licensed mental health counselor who ministers to women, parents, teens, and those whose life doesn't fit the storybook image. Her book for busy moms, Balance, Busyness & Not Doing It All released in 2015. She’s been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Reboot Your Life, The Washington Post, The Purpose Magazine, is a parent and youth expert for several online magazines, and writes a mental health column in her local paper. Brenda also speaks on child abuse prevention, social media safety, and social media and blogging for several writing conferences. Brenda is a wife and mom to four kids ranging from teens to young adults. Brenda's ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, can be found at where she writes about faith, life and parenting beyond the storybook image. She's active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pintetest.