The Psychology of Letting Go (with a Success Story)

Letting go is tough. It's even tougher when you are a homeschool parent. Being with our children 24 hours a day provides its struggles, yes, but it provides such great joy, as well! There can be success along the way.

psychology of letting go

Joyce and I have worked together for years as part of my Gold Care Club, getting all her homeschool records tidy. It was by far one of the most challenging situations I've seen. Her daughter had far below average math test scores and Joyce used a booklet collection curriculum exclusively, which didn't provide some key academics. But you know what? She worked hard to create the best possible homeschool records. She was encouraged by another mom who said it was worth it - that it was like getting paid $1600 an hour to get those records done.

Buoyed by encouragement, Joyce did the hard work. Check out this success story!

"I spoke with you numerous times re: help with transcripts and college applications, etc. Your help was invaluable and our daughter was accepted into about 10 schools, and was offered scholarships at pretty much all of them, thanks to your wonderful and very wise help. Our daughter just finished her freshman year at university, studying music. She did quite well and ended with a 3.8 GPA" ~ Joyce

What a joy! What a thrill! What a huge success for a family that was in a tough situation when they first reached out!

What happens after the scholarships?

What happens after children leave home?

That's when the even harder work happens. It's when children grow up and leave home.

There are some major issues to ponder when your child has left the nest.

1. The purpose of young adulthood is becoming independent

Psychology tells us that this stage of adulthood is when a child learns to separate from their parents, become an independent adult, and develop love relationships with others. When they don't do this, it can lead to isolation in later adulthood, so this is an important time. This means you have to leave your child alone to mature so they can develop independence, make goals, and develop social relationships with others that don't include you. You are still the parents, though, so finding a balance is key.

I suppose, on average, a parent will see a child perhaps once a month at this stage. Some once a week, some once a year, I'm sure, but most see their children much less than they expected.

By the way, we are in a stage of adulthood, too. You (and me!) are learning how to be an older adult, accept the consequences of aging, and relationships with grown, adult children. That's where we are... trying to decide if we will become stagnant in our lives, or if we will move forward and make our lives count.

You want your child to grow into an adult, develop relationships, and not become isolated later in life, so this stage is super important. Standing back and letting go is good, and important for long term emotional health.

You can read more about the life stages of adolescents and young adults here: Erikson's stages of psychosocial development.

psychology of letting go

2. Long term family closeness is enhanced by actual closeness

Your goal is to allow your child to be without you. At the same time, your 5 year plan is to have a close, loving, extended family when they are all grown up. How does this work?

Some parents maintain a great relationship with their kids without physical closeness, but that wouldn't have worked with my kids. Maybe it's because they are boys, but they don't talk to me on the phone or text me. We talk to them only when we see each other in person. Sometimes we meet for an hour over coffee. We invite them to come over for dinner and games. At first, we invited them once a month. Now we invite them once every week or two. They stay for 4 hours and go back home. We are glad to be physically close by because they develop college relationships that last, go to church near college, often find a spouse at college, and this has allowed us to stay near them.

For this reason, it is difficult to find a balance between being physically close and the separateness needed to help your child move forward in life, and to help you with letting go when the time comes. You need to be distant enough to allow them to develop as an individual. If you are close by your child's college, you need to set boundaries. Then stand back. Expect to see your child for a few hours each month, especially in the beginning. Expect them to have a separate life from yours.

And for yourself, work hard to engage in your community, find a fellowship with others, and find a meaningful next stage in your own life, with friends of your own.

3. Letting go is stressful

Watching a child leave your home, and developing your own independence after the challenge of homeschooling for years, can be very stressful! This can cause stress in the marriage, and can even cause stress-related illnesses. Psychologically, there are certain stressors in life that can affect your health. Having a child leave home is one of these big stressors.

You can read more about stressors and health effects here: Holmes and Rahe stress scale.

The solution to this health-related stress problem is to moderate as many stresses as you can control. When you experience big stresses you can't control, it becomes vital to control the stresses you can control. Avoid making dramatic changes in your life when you have the ability to control changes. Treat yourself to a lot of self-care, make sure you sleep well, eat and drink well, and allow yourself time to rest.

I can't really give advice here, I can only tell you what I know from the psychology I studied in nursing school and college, along with what I did in my own life and why. But I love talking to other homeschool parents, not as an authority, but as a friend to another friend over coffee. I sure hope this has helped!

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Comments 3

Guest - Lee (website) on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 08:48

I'm so glad this helped you! Thanks for sharing.


I'm so glad this helped you! Thanks for sharing. Lee
Guest - Homeschool Mom on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 07:41

I am almost to this stage, and this post was very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information!

I am almost to this stage, and this post was very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information!
Guest - Robin on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 12:04

I love you Lee!

I love you Lee!
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