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Holding on to a kid for dear life

Maybe you know this. Maybe you've done it. But if you haven't...

As parents, we know that someday, we must let go of our kids. They have to grow up. You relish those moments of cuddling them after a bath, of snuggling on the couch on a rainy day, of watching them learn a new skill.

But that moment when  you have to let go? We'd rather not.

Maybe it happens when  you drop them off at college that first time. Or that first time you hand them the keys to the car. Or when they get their first real job.

Maybe it's when they tell you (in utter sincerity) that they've learned a lesson you've put before them all their life, but NOW, it finally makes sense.

Sometimes, the letting go is not a happy one. It is not because they have reached a new height, or have grown up, matured. No, this letting go is ugly and sad and harder than anything you've ever done.

This letting go is because your child has made horrible choices. It's drugs or alcohol or the addictive behavior that goes along with it. You have to let go because you cannot support them or their habit. You cannot drag the rest of the family down.

You have to give the child a choice: get clean, learn a new way of living or ... you have to go.

Other parents will tell you how despicable you are for not supporting your child. People will see your kid and thank God that they are not you - for you must be a terrible parent for having a kid that has turned out this way. As a parent, you are a pariah, an anathema. You are at fault. For the other parents, it is inconceivable that their child might choose the same path, so it must be the parents' fault. It is the only way they can justify their damning of you.

Your child is a mess. They lie and steal and deny. You no longer talk to them: you talk to the drugs or the alcohol. You offer food, but not money. You will buy them clothes, but won't give them cash. You know all too well what that money would go for.

Is it love to treat your child like this? Or is it love to not have turned them out? You will be judged. You will be seen as the worst of parents - you "don't support your child." You have to carry that weight.

Your child to will curse you. He will judge you, say hateful things to you. You must wipe the spittle from  your face.

You have to let go.

What no one sees, of course, is that you are holding that child so tightly in prayer. You do not turn them out - you turn them over to God. You beg our Blessed Mother to protect that child. Your knees bleed because you are on them so much. You know, in a very small way, the sword that has pierced Our Mother's heart.

No, you have not let that child go. You are clinging to them in prayer, in supplication, in petition. You will never let them go.


  1. Oh, I have been there. It took 20 years, but I got him back, older and a lot wiser. He slept in cars and on park benches. He did the whole Prodigal Son thing. He's still not in His Father's House, but he understands why we turned him out, and he loves me more than he ever did, and I love him, too. Always, my prayers are with you. ~ Rosemary A. in Hamilton, Ohio.


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