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Runaway Bunny! A Parents' Guide to Letting Go During the Teen Years


A mother and her son discuss the bumpy transition during teenage years.

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.

So he said to his mother, "I am running away."

"If you run away" said his mother, "I will run after you.

For you are my little bunny."

This article appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. So begins one of America’s most beloved picture books, Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny. Since it was first published in 1942, millions of children have identified with the plucky little bunny with big dreams. And millions of parents have identified with the bunny’s protective and loving mother. Together, the bunny and his mother represent the child as the trapeze artist and mother as the safety net, the child as the shimmering fish and mother as the steady fisherman, reeling in the explorer, protecting him from the world. I read The Runaway Bunny to my sons with mixed reviews. My first, who appreciated order from an early age, was relieved to know that the mother would always catch her little bunny, no matter how hard he tried to run away. My second son didn’t like The Runaway Bunny. “Why doesn’t the mommy let the bunny do what he wants to do?” was his response to the plot line. (He later told me he thought the title was “Run away, Bunny!”) He hatched crafty plans to assist the bunny in his dreams of freedom. As I la …

Elizabeth Lesser is the cofounder of Omega Institute, the nation’s largest holistic education and retreat center, in Rhinebeck, New York. She is the author of The Seeker’s Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure (Villard Books, 2000). She and renowned religion scholar Huston Smith explored the differences between spirituality and religion in the Spring 2001 issue of S&H. After journeys in India, where he participated in several long meditation retreats, Elizabeth's son Daniel Rechtschaffen returned to St. Johns College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he was a junior (2001), studying the classics.

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