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Yesterday I was at a cattle auction barn in Colorado selling my small herd of Black Angus cows. They looked so good. Their ear tags were all new and matched. All but one of the cows was pregnant, and the bull was big and healthy. I had taken two of my sons out of school to travel down to watch it all unfold. A few weeks earlier we had told them we had decided to sell the herd. There were tears and the youngest wailed “But we wont have as much farm in us!” He mirrored how I was feeling.

I had come to the realization, however, that running cows at this time in my life was much more of a drain on our finances, my mental energy, and the family’s precious weekends than I wanted to afford. Though I’ve always dreamed of having a large herd and thousands of acres of land to run them on, this was not the time nor season for that. I felt at peace when my wife reassured me by pointing out that though we were closing out a chapter, it certainly didn’t mean we couldn’t someday write cattle ranching back into our life story.

Holding on to control, a belief, a parenting technique, a relationship, or a position can be exhausting and is very often destructive. I suppose that as Americans we feel like we can’t budge or change direction or we’ll be called a quitter. Wishy-washy and soft is not what built this great nation, and we certainly aren’t about to succumb on our watch, right? Perhaps it feels against your character. But sometimes we need to let wisdom outweigh the desire to continue doing what we are doing.

With the cows, it dawned on me that the cost of holding on was too high for the benefits it would yield. Letting go is hard to do if you keep thinking about things in the same old way. In fact, you can’t. You have to see it differently. The release I felt when the decision was made was almost immediate. A new peace just seeped into my body and reinforced the rightness of this step. Since then, I haven’t waffled on the decision. It created space and energy. I was freed up to pour my passion into something just as valid and enjoyable.I was able let go because I had given it my very best effort. There were no regrets in letting go. I knew there was nothing I had left undone or untried. Though my accountant and others may have said I should have let go sooner, I wouldn’t have felt at peace; I simply needed to go through the process myself, in order to have the peace that came.

In my work with parents, I watch this over and over when parents try to “make” something happen for their teen; a grade, a skill, a friendship, a character trait. In time they realize they can’t make it happen. It is an experience of gaining wisdom in what you can and cannot influence. As a child gets older, as parents we will learn to pull our power in and around ourselves, understanding that we can only control our thoughts, our actions, our peace.

Since the Disney movie Frozen has made popular the song “Let it Go,” how about making it our theme song as parents?

To Family Happiness!