Letting Go & Holding On

Letting go


I have been presenting my College Parent 101 session a lot in the last few weeks as this is the season for New Student & Parent Orientation sessions at universities across the country.  As I walked across campus the other day I thought, “Hmm, if we could harness the energy surrounding all the feelings both students and parents are experiencing right now, we could light up several small cities.”  There is a LOT of emotional energy being expressed about what lies ahead.

I watched the movie Toy Story 3 again recently, reminded that the premise of the story is that Andy, the “human” character in the series, is preparing to leave for college and is asked by his mother to pack what he needs and box-up or give away what he no longer wants.  It is a great depiction of the process every student is going through about now; what will I let go of and what will I hold on to – both literally and figuratively? (if you haven’t seen TS3, or haven’t seen it in a while, I think its well-worth watching with this transition in mind)

So much of our identity gets wrapped up in Continue reading →

Learning the Bicycle

learning to ride

In the spirit of looking from every angle as this idea of Letting Go, I offer another poem for us to consider; this one by Wyatt Prunty, called Learning the Bicycle.  I have, since the inception of CP101, been posing varying ideas for parents to consider regarding what Letting Go truly asks of us.

For veteran readers, we know that this idea of Letting Go is more about OUR work of letting go of OUR agendas for them – our “shoulds” – that are at the core of what hold our daughter & sons in a place of reliance on us and the ways that this inhibits their ability to become healthy and self-reliant.  These “shoulds” also hold us as parents back; perpetually connected to the roles we have occupied in our children’s early years, but must be relinquished so that we too might be free to be our best and fullest selves.

So I offer Prunty’s poem here as an image of what this process feels like; what the bicycle process can offer us as a teacher to do our best work as parents, and to offer our children into the teaching of their own lives.

Learning the Bicycle
by Wyatt Prunty

The older children pedal past
Stable as little gyros, spinning hard
To supper, bath, and bed, until at last
We also quit, silent and tired
Beside the darkening yard where trees
Now shadow up instead of down.
Their predictable lengths can only tease
Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone
Somewhere between her wanting to ride
And her certainty she will always fall.
Tomorrow, though I will run behind,
Arms out to catch her, she’ll tilt then balance wide
Of my reach, till distance makes her small,
Smaller, beyond the place I stop and know
That to teach her I had to follow
And when she learned I had to let her go.

Peace for the Journey: At the End of the Year

summer stream

As the academic year winds quickly to a close, there is much to process. As part of the end of the year/semester closing process in the academic world, we are regularly processing assessment tools to gauge feedback to help us confirm what we may already know, as well as learn things that we may not have been aware.

In the on-going cycle of parenting our students, I believe it is helpful to assess how we are doing, no matter their stage of development or our vantage point on parenting.  At this point in the year, you might want to ask yourself questions such as, “How did I do parenting my student through this academic year?”  “What did I learn from what went well, and Continue reading →

The Effort to Listen

Listening

In the next few weeks, our students are coming home. They will be, as predicted, different people than the ones who left last fall.  They will be filled with new ideas about the world, about themselves, and likely about you: Mom &/or Dad.  Those new ideas can be both refreshing, exciting to engage in, and can also be a bit scary.  “Who is this person sitting in front of me?  She looks like my daughter, but I don’t recognize her anymore?

One of the many things s/he is asking of us is to listen to who s/he is becoming.  Its hard to listen when we feel fear about how things change; especially when it is a relationship we care about deeply.

We all suffer, at times, from the effort to fix or give advice rather than to listen. Theologian Paul Tillich puts it this way, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

So often when we refuse to listen, we become obsessed with remaking the world in our own image, or the way WE want it to be, rather than being open in our spirit to what is real and asking us to listen to the truth before us.

In the words of a Native American Elder, “To truly listen is to risk being changed forever.”

  • As you sit with this idea, can you bring your awareness to your propensity to fix or give advice?
  • Can you allow your breathing to loosen your hold on your efforts do or say something?
  • What do you feel about listening so deeply and attentively that you risk being changed?  

Peace, Dane.

Year in the Life of a Freshman: May

May

Transitional Issues

  • Final exams
  • Missing college friends over the summer
  • Conversations about expectations during summer months
  • Packing up to move out

Tips for Successful Parenting

Hang in there!  Finishing the first year in college is a big deal!  It’s a great opportunity to celebrate your student’s accomplishment.  Students with a year of college under their belt are not the same person you moved to campus just a short 10 months ago.

The freshman year in college is considered one of the most Continue reading →

Looking & Seeing

looking.seeing

I find today a new sense of gratitude for Thomas Merton’s perspective…

“Because looking means that you already have something in mind for your eye to find; you’ve set out in search of your desired object and have closed off everything else presenting itself along the way.  But seeing is being open and receptive to what comes to the eye; your vision total and not targeted.”

Ron Seitz, Song for Nobody, A Memory Vision of Thomas Merton (italics added)
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Year in the Life of a Freshman: April

April

Transition Issues

  • Registration for next Fall semester
  • Finalize summer plans
  • Final projects

Tips for Successful Parenting

Summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to finalize plans for the break.  Will he choose to be a camp counselor, take a summer internship, or come home to work &/or take classes at the local college?  These are all decisions that you’re encouraged to Continue reading →

Letting Go is Seeing Farther…

horizon

When I began this blog several years ago, I wondered if I might run out of ways to keep talking about this topic.  It seemed that I, or you the readers, would at some point tire of the conversation or say, “Enough, I get it already…”  Well, neither of those have materialized.  The practice of breathing in and breathing out each rhythmic cycle is itself a reminder that we’re each taking in what we need and letting go of what we don’t; mostly without giving it a lot of thought, though we’re perpetually in the act of “letting go” in order to stay alive.

I know that in similar ways, though more complex, we are asked to consider doing the same in relationships as well, and often no more direct is this on-going fulcrum that we call parenting.  As I write this I am processing the feelings of being in dialogue with my young adult daughter about an international work assignment she is pursuing.  Feelings of gratitude and pride for her work ethic which has paved the way for this assignment sit alongside feelings of sadness for the time away that will inhibit us having regular face-to-face interactions.

This felt so resonant in a recent offering on the Continue reading →

Year in the Life of a Freshman: March

March

Transition Issues:

  • Distracted by spring weather – focus, focus, focus
  • Pending end of the year projects
  • Considering Student Housing options for Fall

Tips for Successful Parenting

Spring is here!  Flowers are blooming and the weather is looking up – a real distraction from being cooped-up during the winter months.  There are Frisbees to be flown, naps to be taken on the lawn, and, oh yeah, and tests and papers and presentations to prepare for.  Understand your students’ desire to Continue reading →

The Underground Journey

winter field

It would appear by the evening forecast that with few exceptions, we’ve no choice, no matter our zip code, but to acknowledge that winter has arrived in force.  As I type this there are winter storm warnings across much of the country.

I’m an avid gardener.  This season is one in which both I and the visible garden rest.  The fall greens have succumbed to the latest cold snap.  The sweet potatoes are dug and stored in the basement.  The wilted peas, cucumber vines, and spent tomato plants are piled in the compost bin.   

The garlic bulbs planted in late October and the daffodil bulbs I plant every fall (beautifully referred to by author Christopher DeVinck as “the flames of Continue reading →