Excerpt for my book submitted for publication entitled: The Launch Code: Loving and Letting Go of Our Adult Children
It occurred to me the other night that teaching our children how to ride a bicycle may contain some lessons for how we should help our adult children transition into adulthood. Do you remember how you taught your child how to ride? Typically, the parent helps the child onto the bike and steadies the bike. Next, the parent tells the child to begin to pedal as soon as the parent pushes the bike forward. The parent reassures the child that they will stay next to the child just in case they have trouble. Finally, the parent gives the child a push, yells “pedal, “and runs alongside for twenty or thirty feet as the child begins to ride on their own. This can be a metaphor for launching the young adult. Launching our child into adulthood is another letting go experience.
- We provide encouragement and guidance to our young adults.
- We stand behind them and provide our love’s steady and secure support.
- We tell them we will be walking with them on their journey.
- We ready them for the journey by reassuring them that they can do this on their own.
- We partner with them to provide the initial push (backbone) and challenge them to pedal on.
At the risk of stretching this metaphor too far, we recognize that some stalled young adults have their feet on the ground and resist getting up on the bike to pedal. Some impaired young adults may try to pedal, but they wobble and fall and have to ask us to help them get back on the bike. Some derailed adults have ignored our guidance, peddled off the pavement, crashed, and need help with healing before they get back on the bike. And, finally, some estranged young adults, sadly, have ridden off, and we wonder if they will come back or remember us.