How to let go?


Active Member
I have the Detachment website on speed dial :smile:

Intellectually, I understand the importance of letting go.

I'm lacking in the actual mechanics though.

My kids are out of the house physically, so that part is taken care of.

My struggle is letting them go emotionally. I freak out (anxiety) if I think they are making a poor choice. I lose sleep over worrying about them. I constantly worry "Are they happy?" "Are they lonely?" I so desire to spare them any hurt in life. And the bottom line is I need to get over this.

I just don't know how.

Any sage wisdom on how to really let your adult kids go? I need to figure this out or lose my mind ... what little is left. :hammer:

Hiya Guru,

Detaching is so difficult. But you did the hard part, you really did. Possession is 9/10ths of the law and all that jazz.

So, part of letting go is realizing that no matter how much you worry or lose sleep, it will not help your child. It will not change the outcome of his/her actions. He/she is going to do the same thing whether you worry, whether you do backflips, or whether you run a marathon. Your actions have absolutely no bearing on their outcome.

What your actions DO do, is drain you of necessary energy. This is energy you would otherwise use to get through your day. You cannot get that time or energy back. Bottom line is, you are not responsible for their happiness. Wondering about whether or not they have it will not change it if they don't. Especially if they are not happy, there is nothing hat you can do to make them happy.

It sounds so cold and calculating. I am not suggesting that you stop caring for your child. I mean to say, stop obsessing over their happiness and other comforts. It is up to them now.

(((hugs))) we have a lot of detaching moms on the board at this time; hopefully you all can exchange ideas.


Active Member
There is a great thread that was started last week, still on this page of the board, called lessons on detaching. I got some wonderful, wonderful help from all of you guys. Perhaps you could read it, and find it helpful. Truthfully I cannot say it any better than many folks already did, so I will leave it to them.
I actually used to repeat some of the items on detachment to myself as a mantra when I thought I would lose it. Literally I would tell myself "you are not in control of others decisions" ect, ect. until I calmed down. That used to help me somewhat. At one (long) point in my life, I went to see a therapist for myself, not my kids and took medications as well because I got to the point where I couldn't cope with what was going on. That helped me put some perspective on things as well. And of course, coming to this site constantly helped me remember to detach when I couldn't acutally do it. The people here would gently nudge me to let was a comfort.


New Member
As you can see, my oldest is in the Navy.

Now, I had a long time to get used to the idea of him being in the service. He decided at age 12 that he wanted to be an air craft mechanic, and basically lived his high school years with that goal.
But still, with the things going on in the world today, it COULD be a paralyzing worry to me. Of course, he's probably got one of the "safest" jobs in the military - he's surrounded by a huge air craft carrier, support ships and a sub. Unless he falls off the back end of the ship testing an engine, he's probably safe.
I know I won't and often can't hear from him every day (Basic Training really brings that one home to you). Once he's deployed (any day now, but definately in November if not before) there will probably be weeks that he may not be in contact.
I really just decided to use the "no news is good news" method of detaching.
Unfortunately, his wife hasn't gotten quite as good of a handle on this, and calls me to complain if she's not heard from him. So I spend a lot of time talking to HER about how he can't always get in touch. That part should be real fun when he is deployed.......


Well-Known Member
A good self-help book, one that saved my sanity was Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Reading it taught me that I could only control myself. Worrying about someone else's choices drains you and prevents you from living your life to the fullest. You have to understand that you taught them the right principles and values. You gave them the tools needed for making the right choices. It is their decision whether to use them or not. All you can do is offer unconditional love and a soft place to land when they don't!


(the future) MRS. GERE
I'm also of the "no news is good news" school of thought. Since I rarely hear from Rob, I'd go nuts if I didn't.

It also helps that I have a relatively new job that is very challenging (stressful) and a relatively new puppy so I have lots of diversions and don't have the time to obsess like I would have in the old days.

Change your life somehow is what I would recommend. Take an adult ed class in something you've wanted to learn but never had time for before. Learn how to cook Italian food....or speak Italian. Auto mechanics? Pottery? Stained glass?

Find a place to volunteer your skills. Join a gym. Plan for a trip in 2008 to someplace exotic. You get my drift.

Take care of YOU. Body and soul. It's your turn now.



Well-Known Member
Staff member
At the height of our difficult child drama, I went back to graduate school and earned a master's degree. Between teaching school and going to school I had other things to think about besides the poor choices that my difficult child was making.

I believe that staying busy was the key. I enjoyed going back to school so much that I am now working on another graduate degree.

I think that any activity that keeps your mind engaged would work. I also like Suz's suggestions.

Being active on the board helps, too.


scent of cedar

New Member
If you go on the Teen / SA site, you will find some things posted by Ant's Mom. There are three or four different posts. Reading through some of the material there helped me to identify some of the traumatic aftermath of what our family has been though. There was one post on post-traumatic stress in families who have survived the addiction of one of their family members that I found especially helpful.

I can't really say why, but reading about each of those organizations was strangely comforting to me ~ even though our son is in his thirties, now.

Ditto to all the above. I am currently trying to detach. Sometimes I fail miserably. Even though my son is not living in our home he is still coming around somehow when he NEEDS something. He is very anxious about his upcoming court date and all his probation stuff. Anyway I am trying to not do what he can do for himself and detach. I cannot control what he does. We told him he could not come back home after his last jail stint. He didnt believe us. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am a teacher. Actually I just got a kindergarten teaching job I have been wanting. It came at the right time. Just in time for me to detach from him - so now I have so much other stuff to do I cant obsess about him all day and that helps me and him. I think it was a God thing! We all need to have faith. This site is comforting to me too. It is because everyone understands. I also go to Alanon. Thank God for that!!! :thumb: Also when I was in the throws of obsessing about him I volunteered at the hospital in the newborn section. I found that very fulfilling just tohold the little babies. It brought me back to that time and I remembered how much I had done to love and take care of my children.


New Member
I think my parents had those same emotions of 3 grown easy child's. I think the difference was they choose when to intervene, and let us fly, but agian today we are so more involved with our grown kids lives then back then mainly because our kids cannot really let us go.



Active Member
Thanks for all of the thoughtful replies.

There is so much wisdom hereabouts.

We went up to the in laws cabin today and I had an opportunity to walk in the woods alone for a long time.

During that quiet time I was able to process all of these responses. The common thread seems to be that our worry is absolutely non productive. And yet so totally drains us. Such truth!!!

Max Lucado (one of my favorite authors) says that "fear is worry's big brother" My worries lead to fears that are paralyzing, sleep and pleasure robbing.

Thanks again ladies. I've had a tough go of things the last few days. Your support is most valuable.
I LOVE Max Lucado's writings. Very inspirational.

And nothing like a nice long walk through nature to get one's head and heart in sync. Best of luck with this, I know it is difficult.



New Member
I worry adult life has been full of sudden changes that have taken me by surprise....none of which I had any control over. So, I am conditioned to be always looking for the other shoe to drop. Right now, we seem to be a pattern of serenity, but my antenna are still on full alert mode.

I need to be more mindful of letting go, as well. Life always seems to unfold as it should, whether we are in control or not.

Thanks for reminding me about detachment.


Active Member
Hi Penta~

How nice to 'see you' again. I'm glad your granddaughter is doing so well.

It has been a long journey has it not?


Active Member
hi Penta as well, glad to see you around.

I have to say there is more to detaching than meets the eye... and more ways to detach depending on what is needed.

I dont worry about ant sleeping or eating or being lonely. I know he can survive that. I dont give him money or suggestions because that is a waste.
I dont let him live here thinking he will be cold or hungry anymore. I know he can find a way.

I do have to say though when impending doom is lurking over ant like this prison thing once more...I did not sleep a few nights til I finally slept from exhaustion. I am tossing and turning. we are not robots who can shut off our thoughts. our minds have to mull things over a few million times to get us more used to the ideas. at some point we come to acceptance of the idea. we release the pain, we get more numb.

I love ant but I cannot let myself think about him too much. it was a failed project, a reminder of my own limits, a not-trusting him to be able to care for himself sort of thing if I was not there. now I get frazzled only at him for constantly making his own life harder. but I know it is not my fault.


Well-Known Member
Hi Goldenguru and others...

Someone sent this to me and I have it posted on our fridge and also on our bulletin board in our office.

Letting Go Takes Love
To let go does not mean to stop caring, it means I can't do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off, it's the realization I can't control another.
To let go is not to enable, but allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try and change or blame another, it's to make the most of myself.
To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their destinies.
To let go is not to be protective, it's to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less and love more.
Remember: The time to love is short
(author unknown)

Maybe you will enjoy this as much as I do.


Active Member
Great to see you Penta :smile:
I remember when that was posted Tammy....I saved it somewhere. In fact..I had it tacked up at work so I could read it all the time.

Detaching is such a long process. I think if my difficult child's had been better decision makers it would be easier. But to see such poor choices happen all the time just reinforces the mommy need in me.

My difficult child's have been making better choices, especially difficult child 2. It's easier to detach now and I do pretty darn good of not getting sucked into difficult child 1's drama.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, keeping busy and time are the best things for least for me.