Parenting Podcast: Letting Go
In this week’s parenting podcast, author, speaker and clinical psychologist Dr.Wendy Mogel warns us about becoming over-involved in our children’s daily tasks, robbing them of independence and self-determination. Specifically, she reflects on the shockingly common problem she’s been seeing lately of young children suffering from constipation. Why is it so hard for parents to let goof the tiniest things their children do (or doo doo, for that matter)?
Moses had the monumental task of letting go, watching the People he had helped shape cross into their Promised Land without him. When I think of Moses as a parent of the People of Israel, the chapters of farewell that end the book of Deuteronomy seem more for him than for us. He says, “For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous for you nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens, to say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?’ And it is not beyond the sea, to say, ‘Who will cross over for us beyond the sea and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?’ But the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.” (Deuteronomy 30: 11-14, RobertAlter translation)
I once read an advice column where a parent asked a doctor if she should intervene on her daughter’s behalf. They had recently put her in school and the girl had regressed on certain behaviors and seemed needy and upset. The doctor responded that our children will face challenges that will be tough for them, and they will go through rough spots. The time to intervene is when we think the challenge is too much for them. I’ve often thought of that response, and how it helps me probably more than my children. I need to remind myself: “They don’t need me for these things. They can do it.” (At this age,it’s things like sleeping through the night, remembering to use the potty, or eating what’s on their plates. But I know someday it will be things like standing up for themselves, making friends, or choosing a path.) I remind myself that the goal is not to remove all challenges and obstacles, but to help my children through them, sending the message each time, like Moses, “This isn’t too hard for you. You can do it.”
Wendy Grinberg, RJE is a URJ Parenting Specialist.
Watch Dr. Wendy Mogel’s speech at the 2011 URJ Biennial.