Take a moment and think about what you want for the children in your life.
What are the things you want and expect from yourself to provide for them?
What are the things that you expect your social network, your community, and your society to provide for them?
Why is it important to you that children receive these things?
I’m assuming it’s because you want to ensure that they have the best development possible and are appropriately functioning for their age so that they can grow into adults who have fulfilling lives and relationships, are a good member of the society, are independent, and are HAPPY.
So you work SO HARD to give these children everything YOU THINK they need and deserve, so they can become who you THINK they can be. You use a significant amount of mental and physical energy day in and day out, which leads to exhaustion, which leads to resentment, which leads to getting angry with that child when who they are in a given moment does not align with what you NEED them to be.
e.g., you are angry with your child because you have spent a lot of money having them learn a new sport, but they aren’t giving their best effort. After you are done getting mad at them, you tell them you only get upset because you love them and want the best for them.
I’m hearing you think, “BUT I thought success creates the Holy Grail of life, which is purpose, happiness, joy, and meaning! I would be doing a disservice to this child if I didn’t ensure they were successful, I don’t want my child to be THAT child who is not “functioning properly” or has a lack. How would that make my child feel?!”
Our journey in life should not be to always strive to be happy. It should be about letting go of our need for how things should be, and instead becoming fully engaged with life’s experiences as they present themselves just the way they are. “Happiness” is not eliminating all negative emotions and painful life experiences within yourself, or your child and your family. I repeated myself: “Happiness” is not eliminating all negative emotions and painful life experiences within yourself, or your child and your family. And “happiness” is not entering interactions with children or others with the desire to fix, control, and produce.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a world-renowned clinical psychologist and the author of the several books on parenting, says that we are trained to only celebrate our children when they are accomplishing something grand, and we gloss over the everyday moments such as when they tie their laces, helping them brush their teeth, and when they get up in the morning. She says that it is all these moment-to-moment instances that call for connections.
My next blog will cover simple ways that you can practice letting go of your ego, your sense of superiority, your need for control over your children, and your anxieties, and figuring out how to allow your child’s life to unfold as it should. I will end this post with a poem by Dr. Tsabary from her book Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work And What Will.
My child isn’t my easel to paint on nor my diamond to polish. My child isn’t my trophy to share with the world nor my badge of honor. My child isn’t an idea, an expectation, or a fantasy nor my reflection or legacy. My child isn’t my puppet or a project nor my striving or desire. My child is here to fumble, stumble, try, and cry. Learn and mess up. Fail and try again. Listen to the beat of a drum faint to our adult ears and dance to a song that revels in freedom. My task is to step aside. Stay in infinite possibility. Heal my own wounds Fill my own bucket. And let my child fly.