Cultivating a Disciplined Free Spirit

Is it responsible to be a truly free spirit? Flying like a kite, mindless of anything but the currents that carry us to the next adventure? Even a kite is tethered to a string. Without the resistance pulling on that string provides, the kite wouldn’t sail half as high.

I always love it when I have all of my children and grandchildren together. For a number of years, Easter has been one of those times. We all went to the Philadelphia area to see my mother and celebrate the holiday with her, my sister and her family, and my husband’s twin brother.  We enjoyed meals, giggling, walks to our favorite chocolate shop, and some kite flying last year.

Having four generations together made for some fascinating observations. The great-grandchildren always gravitated to my mother – not because they were prodded to, but because she was a kindred, free spirit, and they recognized that. Children, for the most part, say what they think, imagine freely, and show their emotions spontaneously. My mother still had those qualities in abundance, but in adult company, she was somewhat more restrained.

Fortunately for my mom, she had a career (writing) that allowed her to scratch her creative itch and get paid for it. But as an editor, she also had to manage budgets and personnel, and make sometimes unpopular decisions. When did she learn to think a little before she spoke?  When did she understand that she had a responsibility to others as well as to herself?

Our parents taught us to be ourselves, but mindful of others. We were allowed to make a huge papier-maché mess in the play room, for example – but never to say hurtful things to one another.  Mom and Dad encouraged our love of words and music, our sports ventures, supported our every performance and treasured every handcraft.  But they also had expectations.

How much do you rein in children who are truly free spirits, whose minds are racing and whose enthusiasm is contagious? Hopefully enough to keep them from getting caught in a kite-eating tree, and with enough support to help them soar. Guarding against climbing too high into danger, but allowing enough experimentation to learn individual limitations and strengths.  And letting go a little with each year.

A parent’s toughest assignment is letting out that string a little at a time. We never really let go, and each time that kite takes a dip, so do our hearts. Still, we do our best to send our children and their free spirits soaring, on a proverbial wing, and a prayer.


This post is in response to a Weekly Photo Challenge from the WordPress Daily Post. The challenge topic for this week is Free Spirit.  To learn more about the challenge, or to see other spirited entries, click here

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54 Responses to Cultivating a Disciplined Free Spirit

  1. Pingback: To Every Thing There is a Season… | The Retiring Sort

  2. This was great! My college advisor once called me a “free spirit with direction”. I still am, I think! Thanks for reading my blog today- It’s great to connect with yours!


  3. caliroe says:

    What a lovely post! I’ve always been the ‘free spirit’ in my family while growing up, learning reasonably 😉 healthy boundaries along the way. When I had my girls, I reigned myself in more than a little in many areas, for their sake, without denying them the imaginative, playful components that come naturally with my temperament. Now I am the ‘fun one’ with the grand-kids and mom and dad are their tethers. LOL — benefits of grand-parenthood…


  4. LubbyGirl says:

    I think that so far, this is my favorite of all I’ve read and looked at for this challenge. I like the kite analogy very much, especially the part about never really letting go all the way. Seems to be the case for sure!


  5. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit — Your Children are NOT your Children | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity

  6. eof737 says:

    Wonderful addition to the challenge shots. Good thing I came by again. I almost missed this one. 🙂


  7. Maggie L R says:

    Wonderful post. I love to watch my grandchildren as they explore. I love the kite analogy, giving our children enough freedom to soar.


  8. emmasmom616 says:

    I loved reading this post!! It reminds me to think of my own parents’ point-of-view and to let them know as often as I can to tell them how much I appreciate all they have done/continue to do for me. We don’t live near one-another so when we do get to visit we have to make the most of every minute. 🙂


  9. lexiesnana says:

    From this day forward my little free spirits will forever remind me of a kite thanks to you.Just beautiful.


  10. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit | Humbled Pie

  11. Pingback: Discipline Without Distress | crunchy parenting

  12. You have a beautiful and wonderful family that is a perfect example of a free spirit that filled with joy and love.


  13. Pingback: Weekly Photo Chalenge : Free Spirit « komuter jakarta raya

  14. jguider says:

    The last paragraph of your post is pure magic. I loved how you tied your reflection together with the theme. You carry on your mother’s talents.


  15. Beautifully said from a parent’s heart.


  16. I love your last paragraph. It brought tears to my eyes.


  17. Lisaman says:

    Interesting thought…we do reign in emotion and thought and free spirit in our children!!


  18. sued51 says:

    Your parents sound great. Nice post…


  19. SimplySage says:

    Beautifully written on a beautiful subject. I agree totally with this. Children are the finest examples of unleashed inspiration. It’s a delicate balance to rein them but they usually do discover their own limits, under the watchful eye of an adult. 🙂
    I want you to know I’m nearly ready to write up the award you gave me. I did put you on my blogroll. Let me know how you want the description. I put something there but I’d like your input.


  20. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirits in Amsterdam « What's (in) the picture?

  21. “A parent’s toughest assignment is letting out that string a little at a time.” So true! So, what happens then the string gets all tangled up into a knot?


  22. “be ourselves, but mindful of others” wise words!


  23. adinparadise says:

    This is so beautifully written. Your mom sounds like she was a wonderful woman, and so well-loved by her family. I wish that I’d been given more of a chance to find my free spirit when I was a teenager. I made sure that my children didn’t suffer from being overly constricted, and they’ve both grown into really fulfilled and happy adults. 🙂


  24. DagEnDauw says:

    Cute kite pictures.
    How beautiful you ‘ve put this whisdom into words…
    Loved to read your post.
    I totaly agree that, responsibility sure is a very important part of a great free spirit.

    Have a nice Sunday
    – Dauw –


  25. Madhu says:

    To be aware of the limits of ones freedom, without impinging on the freedom of others….that is a vital lesson that needs to be passed on! Inspiring take TRS!


  26. Reblogged this on Inspire-urself and commented:
    Destiny depends on the strength of your Desires & Dreams.
    If you cry at troubles, they grow double.
    If you laugh at troubles, they disappear like bubbles.


  27. Arindam says:

    Well said. Very true. We all need to give every kid that much space, so that he can fly like a free spirit. You are really lucky to have such parents, who let you remain the way are; who never came in the way of your desire and aspiration from life. There’s much of a lesson for all of us here. Great post!


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