Growing up with a father, who is a pilot, I have had the opportunity to fly in many types of aircrafts. The helicopter was the most adventurous way of flying, but I love the way a glider allows you to fly silently through the air. Since gliders don’t have an engine, they need help from an aero-tow, which is a rope that connects to the glider and a tow plane. In flight, the glider pilot releases the rope when it is at the right altitude. At that point the glider changes direction away from the airplane and flies on its own. How does it fly without power?

With the beginning of a new school year upon us, many parents are experiencing the plane and glider experience. Children who are three or older are developmentally ready to separate from their parents and start soaring on their own. As you release your children into the care of others,(otherwise known as “cutting the umbilical cord”) your ultimate goal is for them to soar without crashing to the ground. To help your children succeed in this endeavor, you are going to need to empower them with the same elements of physics that the plane applies to the glider: lift, drag, gravity and thrust.

Lift- The lift you can give your child is the reassurance that you are coming back and the release must happen quickly for the glider to soar independently. When parents linger, the child actually falls in altitude thinking they can control the tow plane (you) to hang on. This is a bad situation for both the parent and child, so let go quickly.

Drag- The drag the glider has is the force that acts opposite to the direction of motion. Drag is caused by the friction of the air over the glider. That difference for your child will be that they are in a new environment, surrounded by a new teacher and friends. Although your child pleads with you to stay, your actions need to be firm and quick, for without the drag they will never encounter different experiences apart from you. And yes…crying can be a natural part of the process and NO… you are not a bad parent for allowing them to cry.

Gravity- Gravity is the force of weight that keeps one from flying off into space. Gravity is the security of rules and limits that children thrive on and need in their world to feel safe.

Thrust- Finally there is thrust, which is the force that propels a flying machine in the direction of motion. Engines produce thrust, but the glider doesn’t have an engine so it needs a tow plane. Since you are that tow plane that got your child to school, it is up to you to help him to fly through with encouragement and praise that they can do it!

Overall the laws of flight are always in the middle of a tug-of-war with the four forces. For an airplane to takeoff, thrust must be greater than drag and lift must be greater then gravity. For you to leave your child so they will succeed this year, your determination for them to succeed must not be overtaken by their lack of self-confidence entering the classroom. Imagine the disaster if the glider takes off only to follow the plane and never discover the unique path God has intended. Many times there will be tears or pleas not to go to school, parents must not give in or the child will never fly. The lift you give your child will set the tone for how far they will fly this year. Aim high!