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Let Go

acorn 2971342 640As I prepare to join many Kansas City Women's Chorus friends for a farewell to one of us who recently transitioned out of this life, I was reminded of a song we all learned long ago. Written by Harmony Grisman, the lyrics (sans the repetition in the original) are simple.

"In love, practice only this: letting each other go. Holding on is easier; we don't need to learn it. Practice letting go."

Harmony could have been writing the theme song for the Childhood Treasure of Acceptance. It's had me thinking about how children are supposed to learn to let go...yet often don't.

Acceptance. Letting go. The acorn's story. The story of the Sacred Wound.

Children's psyches are wounded so often, and so easily, when they are young. Yet, many of those wounds, blessedly, fit this "Sacred" category. Described by Dr. Jean Houston in her book, The Search for the Beloved, these wounds are the ones that help make us who we are meant to be.

Like acorns, we must dissolve the seeds of who we once were--let go of who we have been--if we are to become the oak trees within us. We can't become our best selves at three or thirty-three, without letting go of the two-year-old.

Yet, even as they help us grow, these are wounds. They hurt. Emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually painful, Sacred Wounds may open us up to possibility, but we still bleed from them. The acorn dissolves into mulch for the oak. It dies, so that the oak can become.

As adults, one of our key jobs is to help children through these times of Sacred Wounding. Many of us, having not received much help with these wounds, ourselves, are often at a loss. How do we help children know and accept this reality: that pain, fear, and even anguish are natural parts of growing up. How do we help them see that they are necessary, for revealing the towering strength within?

Without the Treasure of Acceptance, children will grow up to live as victims, seeing themselves only as an effect of forces beyond their control. Knowing we don't want that for our children, here's what we do. First, make sure that their first six Childhood Treasures are claimed! Acceptance, mined in the seventh year of life, is the "capstone." Without the other six to support it, Acceptance remains lodged in our psychological bedrock. 

Then, we support them in becoming the little philosophers they must be, if they are to sacrifice the self they have known on the altar of their futures. Here's a little quiz to test your mettle for this job. Which of these responses to loss do you see as most likely to foster the mining of Acceptance? Pick the three you think are most supportive.

  1. He shouldn't have pushed you down like that, buddy. People from that kind of family just don't act right.
  2. It's hard to say goodbye to a friend when she moves away. Go ahead and cry, honey, if it makes you feel better.
  3. Kids shouldn't be mean like that, after you're so nice to them. Some people are just bad people. You deserve to be angry!
  4. Don't let her text get you down, sweetie. Even good people sometimes have bad days and say things they don't mean.
  5. Things don't always work out exactly as you'd like them to. Let's look at the parts of this that did, though.
  6. Whatever you do, don't let people take advantage of you like that. You'll never get ahead in life, if you do.

To help your children pactice letting go, the best responses are #2, 4, and 5. The essence of Acceptance is letting go of anything over which we have no control, such as  others' choices. Scapegoating, blaming, and stereotyping (#1); judging and drama (#3); and withdrawal/separation (#6) aren't letting go. They might look like it on the surface, but they actually foster the mentality of a victim, not an "accepter."

Truly letting go is knowing that, even when something hurts, that hurt is a necessary part of life. It's knowing the hurt isn't terminal and doesn't have to change our own intentions to live from our values.

The hardest part, for us caring adults, is to stand by and watch the pain. It's the only way, though, to help children, as the acorns they are, to open to the intelligent oak trees inside. Remember, Harmony Grisman's wisdom: "Holding on is easier; we don't need to learn it." Don't inadvertently help children learn to hold on to pain. 

Instead, help them "practice letting go."

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#followmy2019adventure as I drive around the country, promoting my first book and writing the second one -- just for parents and educators of young children! Follow me on Facebook @Dr.L.CarolScott or on Instagram @dr.l.carol.  See you on the highways and byways...or maybe in your hometown! Contact me directly if you want to set up a speaking opportunity or workshop in your community!

 

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Dr. L. Carol Scott.

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