When Love Stinks

If you’re a 50-pluser, chances are your kids are either grown or nearly grown. And you have to let them go. Branch out. Hoist anchor. Spread their sails and catch the evening wind. On their own.

But when they hit a squall and run aground or founder, broken and shattered, it really stinketh. Big time.

Because there’s only so much you can do. As a parent, you may want to rush in. Fix everything. Make it all better. Soothe every scrape and bandage every break.

It’s the same thing when you see your grown children unfairly attacked or maligned by semi-literate third parties who wouldn’t know The Truth or a coherent Fact Pattern if it walked up to them on a street corner and shook hands.


You want to book them a seat on the next flight to Outer Moldavia. If you’re a Mama Grizzly (like Yours Truly), you may want to do more.

But sometimes parents of young adults have to stand aside.

It’s horrible. Counter-intuitive. And one of the hardest things you may ever have to do.  A special kind of purgatory.

Because we’re aching to race in. Sort things out. Set the record straight. Render answers, alternatives and solutions at lightning speed. Transfer our child’s burden onto our own shoulders.

We’d do anything to take their pain away. See them happy and whole again. Safe.

But we can’t. Because somewhere, deep down, we know there’s a fine line between being helpful and supportive and being stifling and controlling, artificially extending childhood.

Ships are safe in harbor; but that’s not what ships are for.

Sometimes love has to be strong enough to let go.

So we gather every shred of self-control we can muster and stand aside, silently bleeding inside as we shed private tears.

Much as we’d like to ease our grown child’s pain or rescue them from the consequences of poor decisions, we can’t. Doing so would effectively deprive them of a chance to develop their own navigational skills. To learn how to take the wheel.  Chart their own course. Steer out of a safe harbor into the big blue of adulthood and independence. Stepping in and short-circuiting the process as Mommy and Daddy isn’t love. It’s selfishness.

I get it. But it still stinks.


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2 thoughts on “When Love Stinks

  1. Hi Kristine, I hear you. I used to feel that way about my children but now my daughter has two sons and my son is a man. They will always be your children but we don’t do them any favours by stepping in and trying to fix their problems. I’m someone who likes to make everything better for everyone but sometimes you just have to let them go, experience life and learn. They will love you even more for it later in life. xx


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