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A Walk in the Woods

By September 13, 2016One Comment

Many long years ago, when I was struggling to raise children in their teen years, I read an article entitled A Walk in the Woods written by the grief-stricken mother of a teenaged son.  While I have never had a great memory, I’ve never forgotten her words.  The story feels as relevant today as it did when I originally read it.  It’s the age-old story of children gaining their independence and going off into the world that repeats with each generation.  The angst of the parents who remain behind is the same, as is the eagerness of the children to be let loose.woodswoods

The Story

The son of the writer had just lost his best friend, killed in a horrific traffic accident.  The friend was one of the several boys injured or killed while driving recklessly after a round of drinking.  The author’s grief was an acknowledgment that there comes a time in the raising of children when they go off our radar screens;  a time when they must take “a walk in the woods.”

It’s a time when we as parents cannot follow them, nor can we see them.  They are on their own.  All we can do is prepare them by telling them what they will need in the woods. Life survival skills. Resilience, determination, a sense of humor, creativity, trust, etc.  Then we must let go.

We must wait for them on the other side.  That can be tortuous.  Remember, cell phones won’t work.

We can take comfort while they’re out of sight that we’ve prepared them well.  But, there are no guarantees.  We must trust that the lessons we’ve taught over the years will serve them well and that they will emerge safely from the woods.  They might have a few bruises, but undoubtedly we will marvel at their maturity, their self-confidence and newly found sense of self.

In the meantime, while they’re in the woods, our jobs as parents are done.

Most likely, only for the time being!


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.

One Comment

  • Irene says:

    Thank you- I’m taking a deep breath right now. Addie leaves in two years. She’s a great kid and I know she’ll do well on her own. But, it’s still so scary!