My wife and I have a dog. She’s a 3 year old Border Collie/Lab mix named Misty. Misty has a lot of energy, so we frequently take her on walks. Usually we walk her around our neighborhood, but when we know we have some time and the weather will cooperate, we like to take her over to Fox Valley Tech and walk the trails out there. There’s a few reasons we like to do this, but the big one is that we can let Misty off of her leash.

When we go walking, Misty likes to walk about 20 feet ahead of us. It works great for us now, but I have to admit, the first time we let her off of her leash, I was a bit uneasy. What if we call her back and she doesn’t listen? What if she runs off into the woods? What if someone else that we can’t see yet is walking their dog, and Misty runs ahead and gets in a fight? There’s a lot that can go wrong.

However, Abby and I know that we’ve trained Misty well. We worked hard on getting her to respond to commands, so we are confident that she’ll listen to us in any situation. Because we have that base, it allows us to trust her when she is off of her leash, and she feels more free to run and explore because of it.

Now I’m not a parent, and I’m not one of those people who thinks having a pet is anywhere close to having a child. But I’m sure that there’s a parenting metaphor here about trusting your child to know what’s right, and giving them more freedom because you are confident in their decision making. I can also imagine that the fears and anxiety are way higher, and that the joy it can bring is immensely larger.

What has this looked like in your life? What have been the moments with your kids where you trusted them enough to let go of the leash?