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Time to leave the nest

Published: 
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Richard Branson

More than 25 years ago, I heard you tell the story about how as a child your mother dropped you off miles from home and had you find your way back. It has been with me ever since.
I am now a mother myself, and my question is this: How can I help my son Jules, who went to school for business, marketing and management, leave our family real estate business? It’s a very profitable enterprise, but I know that his heart is not in having a career here. I want Jules to be happy. He wants to move away to a large city to pursue his dreams, but it is difficult for him. His fear of separation, and mine as well, is keeping him close to home. How does a parent let go?
—Lori Loesch

As a father, I know how hard it can be to let children go off on their own and make critical life decisions. But you must realise that letting go is not about separation; it’s about independence.

Through all her 90 years, my mother, Eve, has maintained a great sense of adventure, and she has always recognised the importance of independence. She continuously set new challenges before me when I was growing up so that I (and she) could learn to trust in my ability to make good decisions.

The story you refer to goes like this: When I was a small child, Mum stopped the car in the middle of nowhere about three miles from our home, let me out and told me to find my own way back. I made it home safe and sound, but that wasn’t the only time Mum put me to the test. 

When I was 12, she had me cycle 50 miles to a relative’s house all by myself. Also, encouraged by Mum, I once jumped into a river in order to win a bet (this was before I had learned how to swim!). Going through with these feats was anything but easy, but it forced me to experience the world on my own. Looking back, childhood was a rather elaborate triathlon!

When it comes down to it, letting go is about trusting your son to make the right decisions for himself. It sounds like you have raised a fine young man; now it’s time to push him to go out on his own and give him the freedom to live the life he desires.