Watching butterflies, going for a run and singing (out loud) to the music, the sun beaming down from a clear blue sky with my hair blowing in the wind cruising in my convertible. Just a few of the many experiences of summer freedom that I enjoy.

It’s July, and the kids are on vacation with a multitude of plans, going here and there and as most other parents of teenagers know, they are out more than they are home, as they too enjoy their taste of summer freedom from school and routines until the bell rings once again in September.

Today I feel so much more freedom than I ever have before, and not just because it’s summertime.

Many have heard me talk and write about the fact that I am a recovering control freak, and the truth is I probably always will be! Control was modelled and therefore rooted itself in me, but I have discovered that the journey of parenting has become so much freer, easier, more fun and less stressful as I learned and continue to cultivate the art of letting go of control.

Recently my son graduated from grade 8 and as he grows and matures more and more every day, catching up with his shoe size, I had yet another opportunity to face my old controlling ways!

The idea was to go to the hairdresser just to get a trim on grad day. Then at the last minute, there was mention of maybe getting black streaks, which I thought would be okay if we had time.

After the hairdresser finished cutting my son’s hair, safe for the front that now perfectly hangs below his eyes, he suggested that it would look a lot better, based on the colour of my son’s natural hair, to dye it all…black!

I caught myself for a moment thinking, “Black? Completely black? Maybe another time, other than grad night would be better?” One of my old fears emerged that worried about being judged or what others might think, but then I took a breath and reminded myself that it was, after all, only hair, and it wasn’t mine!

This was something that he had wanted to do for some time and said that he knew it would look good, although I had been somewhat hesitant. Now the hairdresser was suggesting the same thing, so I said something that many of us would probably say if we were on vacation in the middle of the ocean on a cruise ship, looking at the dessert table… “Why not?”

We were running a little late, so I ran home quickly to grab his suit having left him eating a cheeseburger and fries at the salon, looking something like Harry Potter meets Eddie from The Munsters! By the time I got back, it was done. His whole head was raven black and after the stylist had finished, my son finally had the dark, sculpted look that he had wanted to get for a while, and he was absolutely right, it looked fantastic! I could tell he felt so good about himself!

Oh the needless stress I endured when I went through the power struggles with my daughter who also went through the phase of wanting to colour her hair black. Unfortunately for her, I was at a different place then and my knee jerk reactionary answer was a resounding “NO!”

I smile as my godmother’s voice is in my head reminding me of controlling days gone by when I would remake my daughter’s bed, totally oblivious to the fact that she would eventually do it more neatly herself, certainly by her 30th birthday! Or when I got so frustrated during her tom boy phase, when she sported oversized T-shirts and cargo pants complete with boyish sneakers, devastated at the thought that she may never turn into a girly girl!

It took a lot of letting go for me to allow her the space to move through this phase (Note: they’re all just phases you know!), and it seems so silly now as she has blossomed into a beautiful young lady who takes care of herself from her beautifully made-up face to her pedicured toes, owning more skirts than me!

There can be so much freedom in allowing the evolvement process to unfold as our kids spread their wings finding their independence, discovering who they are. I’m pretty sure the mama butterfly doesn’t stand over her baby cocoons and say, “Wait, you’re evolving all wrong!”

Our role is an important one of course, guiding and encouraging them, but to understand that forbidding, threatening or telling them will most likely lead to endless rebellious struggles or sneaking around behind our backs.

Who knows, perhaps by letting go, believing and trusting in them may just reduce the billable office hours of future counsellors and therapists treating the mid life crisis crunch of those trying to figure out who they are and what they want from life…at 40!

Summer is here and I am looking forward to watching my kids explore their own unique expression of who they are and to further bask in the freedom I have found in me as a parent, by letting go of control.

I know it’s coming…I can feel it…the inevitable topics of body piercings, tattoos and how late they can stay out! But I’m ready and know that I have a choice in how I respond, which makes all the difference.

Yes isn’t necessarily always the answer given, but the no’s are now handled in a much different way as I lighten up, relax and be more open to listening to and considering their point of view.

It’s going to be a fun summer and I hope you also experience the fun and freedom that summer brings now, and during all the other months of the year too!

Author's Bio: 

A reaction, a look or a phrase, and we catch ourselves, “I’ve turned into my mom/dad!” Jo-Anne Cutler is no exception. Once she became aware of the unconscious messages that accompanied her words and reactions, she made a conscious choice to change. Jo-Anne knew that if she could do it, anyone could. In addition to being a writer, she supports her vision of empowering and inspiring others to be the parents, teachers and role models the children of this world need them to be, by creating awareness as a speaker and coach, offering programs as well as a monthly newsletter on how to keep all the great stuff we’ve learned from our parents while breaking the cycle of the, well, not so good stuff! For more information or to contact Jo-Anne directly, please visit