Over a year…it has taken me over a year to connect the pieces of the puzzle and conclude that I almost ALWAYS needed to be in control as a parent. People around me chuckle at this revelation – why would that be a surprise? It’s part of who I am, and have always been. Fair enough. It’s exhausting, frustrating and what purpose does being in control really serve?
My children are now in their twenties, each following their own paths, each having successes and challenges. There was a time when we used choice to teach our children decision making skills. But who created the choices for them? You guessed it. I’m amazed watching each of them face things they have never been exposed to, and figuring them out. I do think that my controlling nature was a barrier to them in their teenage years. I won’t go back in time to say, “We should have…” or “We could have…”. If we only knew then what we know today (as the saying goes). But I can make a difference now, and in the future – for them, their children, my husband and those around me.
Today, my mantra is very different – when someone asks me what they should do about a particular problem in their lives, I listen. I ask questions. Do you have all the information you need? Is it the correct information? What are the pros and cons? What are some potential solutions? Should you take more time to think about this? A year ago, I would have blurted out what I thought the answer was. Who made me the master? I needed to be in control, to protect and direct them in the direction that I thought was right. Being in control was meeting my needs at the time, not theirs.
Our children need to maneuver through life with open minds, exploring all that the world has to offer them. They should be empowered in their youth, not held back by the protective shields we put up around them. Guiding them (not directing) lets them figure out what their heart is really telling them – who they really are. It also opens doors when they can consider all possibilities, even those that seem so far away – not restricted to those we ram down their throats.
I can’t change the past but I sure as heck can learn from it. It takes time to change not only habits, but our own thought patterns. I’m healthier, confident in their ability to thrive without my interference. I’m still biting my tongue on occasion and that’s OK because it means I’m catching myself.
I’d love to post some of your thoughts/ideas/suggestions or personal connections. Does this make any sense to you?