My favorite meal is breakfast. I am a big lover of food and nothing beats a hearty breakfast of eggs, turkey sausage, toast and some fruit for good measure. So when my 6 year old son wanted to learn how to cook eggs, how could I resist giving him the opportunity to make me my favorite meal?
I’ll tell you how. The idea of allowing him to use the stove with its dangers while fully understanding how to crack the eggs and not spread potential germs and then cook the eggs to “perfection” felt like a tall order. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was up to the challenge. Every bit of the controlling part of me said no and it’s easier to do it myself than to teach it to him kicked in. I felt it, I absorbed and then I heard myself say, “Okay, you can do it.”
What? Had I lost my mind? Nope. Just practicing what I preach. Our kids don’t grow unless we allow them to and neither do we.
So my little boy practiced how to use the stove, the frying pan, crack the eggs and not spread germs and in a much shorter time than I expected, perfected the over easy egg.
I commented recently to my daughter how impressed I was with his skill at making eggs at age six and she said, “Maybe because you’re the mom who allows him to make them at age six. How else will he get good?” Damn, she’s smart…and she’s right.
Had I held on to my control of his experiences and not allowed him to try, he wouldn’t learn to how to make eggs, nor would he practice enough to get them coming out quite so good. And they are good. Really, really good.
In our quest to protect our children and ourselves, we so often rely on our need and desire to control what our children are doing, saying and thinking and work hard to craft their world in the way we feel they should see it. Our sense of control of them makes us feel safe, confident, powerful and stable for the moment. But when they don’t follow our leadership and suggestions, the sense of safety turns quickly. When things feel like they are out of our control, we tend to panic and problem solve in an effort to get things back “on track” aka “within our control.”
And here’s what we miss- every – single- time:
The more effort we exert to control another’s world, the more out of control we will begin to feel. The key to truly feeling safe, confident, powerful and stable is not actually what we do for them, but what we don’t do for them and allow them to do for themselves.
I know, it sounds like I may have been touched with a bit of salmonella poisoning after all, but hear me out.
The more we try to micromanage, the more anxious and controlling we become as we try to manipulate every aspect of our world. But when we let go of our perception of control of others and allow them to take responsibility for themselves, we give them the gift of independence and ourselves the gift of freedom.
As we begin to release our perception of control of our external environment, the more in control we will become to feel and accept whatever happens next. The missing link is Faith. The more we believe that we can accept and handle what comes next, the more in control we actually are.
Faith is not a hope, it is a belief. And believing is a practice, that requires A LOT of reiteration. It doesn’t come natural to the majority of us, but it does benefit all of us when we allow it a prestigious place in our lives.
Had I controlled my son’s interest (and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot I do and must control to keep them safe and healthy), I would not be enjoying the benefits of a little man making me breakfast every day. He is so good to his mama….Nor would I acknowledge the insight of my 9 year old daughter who often points out what’s right in front of my face.
And the best part…the gift of responsibility and growth to them is the greatest gift to me.