Do you ever find yourself talking to someone, hear the words come out of your mouth and think, “now, that is some good advice, I need to try that” ?
I do this all the time. Sometimes I think I am really just counseling myself…or I simply need a lot more help than I realize. Either way, I could be better at practicing what I preach. It’s one of the side effects of being imperfect.
I am a control junky. I like to control my environment as best I can. But when I realize (sometimes it takes me a little while) that something is genuinely out of my control, I typically have the sense to step back, acknowledge my role and let it go. When it comes to parenting, I will always be the first to question what is within our control in our quest to “manage” our children. What can we actually do versus what we think we can do when it comes to controlling our children’s behavior? I can easily outline what our responsibility is and how we can handle it. What I apparently can’t do, is live by that theory with any sense of ease.
When my kids have a problem, I do my best to help them talk it out and work through it. Sometimes time constraints and my minute patience get in the way, but we are pretty consistent with this communication. Consequently, my children are well versed in talking about their feelings and processing how they want to handle situations…when they are with me. I always tell them what I think and how I view a situation, so they have a clear understanding of what I want them to do and think. I am working with my manipulative tool box as often as I can, in hopes that they will follow my lead and do exactly what I want them to. Just being honest….
So when my daughter was having a friend issue recently (girls, glorious girls) and I didn’t like the way she was handling it, I stepped in to interject and take control and my daughter patiently looked at me and firmly said “Mom, this is my problem. Give me some space to figure it out. I need to learn how to handle it on my own, the easy way or the hard way.”
At first, I was a little offended, but before I opened my mouth to object, I realized that she was handling it exactly as I wanted her to. On Her Own. I’d given her instruction. She knows how I feel. I’d modeled the behavior. And now, it was her turn to show what she learned and do it independently. The ultimate goal of parenting. And it was painful…
I so badly wanted to intervene, to process the issue smoothly and objectively. I wanted her to be respectful and not hurt anyone’s feelings. To say the “right” things and walk away with everyone feeling good. I wanted to be part of the conversation and fix it when it wasn’t going the way I thought it should. But, she asked me not to. No, she told me not to.
So, I said, “okay, fair enough,” held my breath and walked away. I had done my part. I was not in control. It was time to let go. About 30 minutes later, she came back to me and said “problem solved.”
I’m not sure how the problem got solved because I didn’t ask. I was assuming that was part of the “handle it on my own” request. If she wanted me to know, she’d tell me. She never did. And apparently, it’s not my problem to solve. Even though I believe it, wholeheartedly, it doesn’t make the letting go of control part any easier.
I think we both learned some boundaries that day. Okay, maybe it was just me noticing she was creating boundaries and I learned that we had them. I am not to be the Puppet Master of my children’s lives, just their rock star teacher who shares what she knows, constantly yells at them to put their shoes away when I trip over them, and smothers them with kisses when they least expect it. And turns out, I think it’s pretty good advice.