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One Independent Mom, Four Independent Sons


My husband and I are both retired engineers, out living the dream. We live on a pristine lake in cottage country with towering pine trees. We love to spend time with our four sons, two grandchildren, extended family and close friends. We travel the world, play bridge, eat healthy and keep fit.

Recently, we have found purpose in helping parents who have adult children who are stuck. We have knowledge and experience to offer because not long ago, one of our sons was dangerously close to living on the street, after five years of being on his own. The situation was causing severe stress and discord in our otherwise loving and peaceful family. This is the story of how we found a path to harmony and joy.

We decided to invite him back home to help him figure out what was going on. For over a year, we were guided by experts, finally finding a diagnosis and then, gratefully, a solution. He agreed to enroll in a five week residential program that combined healthy practices and holistic treatments with discipline to enhance self-awareness and empathy for others, leading to full independence.

Personally, the thought of letting go was terrifying; yet I knew it was the best for him and I chose love over fear. I was able to find peace with our decision because of work that I had been doing with several coaches and healers.

The most impactful experience happened while he was living at the retreat centre. Friends were visiting us at home and I shared my difficulty of letting go. They led me through an exercise of imagining the chords that connect me with each of my sons. One by one they walked me through a process of cutting those maternal cords that connected me with my sons.

One by one, four times, I recited “I LOVE you, and, I release you to be an independent adult.” Hundreds of miles away, on the same day, staff noticed a shift in my son’s appearance, attitude, and behaviour. I knew that cutting the invisible cord had a profound impact on both of us, all five of us actually. We were all released that day to thrive as independent adults.

My newfound independence enabled me to fully participate in a family intervention, during his stay at the centre. Our family was guided through a loving, peaceful and profoundly powerful exercise that was life-changing for all of us. We shared truthfully, deeply and emotionally. At the conclusion, we lovingly offered him a “Gift of Independence”, which included keys to a modest room and cash for groceries for two months, with guidelines for his behaviour that came with tough consequences. He chose to accept our gift, for which we are forever grateful. There have been hiccups in the last year and a half, of course, testing me. I learned that to maintain my independence and respect theirs, I need to treat my adult sons like close friends. I love them, I am there for them and I let them live their own lives.

It’s been over a year now. Our family is more harmonious, loving and connected than I could ever have imagined. All four of our sons have bonded closer than ever before and all of them celebrate their successes without concern for shaming anyone. Rob and I have more energy to spend on us, with time together to travel, play bridge, visit friends and work on our business, to give back.

As an independent Mom, I am now free to see and embrace the possibilities that life has to offer and so do my independent sons.


By: Cille Harris offers Real Alternatives for Out Living the Dream, with her husband in Ompah, Ontario, Canada. Visit

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