Submitted by T. M. Todorovich, USA
My life has been full of ups and downs, happiness and sadness, victories and disappointments, just like every one’s life has been. None of us have had the perfect life, made all the right decisions, and had perfect relationships, careers, friends, and had everything. The good stuff mingled in with the bad is what makes life interesting. The hard times, the disappointments, the mistakes, they all guide us to be better and mold us into the person we become. I know this, but when I look at my children, I tend to forget.
When one of my children is hurting, I hurt too. Sometimes I hurt worse than they do, sometimes not as much, but I always hurt. If I see them making what I see as a mistake in a relationship choice, I want to fix it. I want to tell them, “Don’t do that! You will regret it.” I see them making the same mistakes I made, settling for something less than perfection, and procrastinating making big decisions and my heart stops. My pulse pounds and I see all the negatives.
During those times, I forget to stop and see it from my child’s point of view. I normally only see it through my own eyes, my own failures and shortcomings, and my own experiences. That is where I am wrong.
As parents, our responsibility is to guide our children. Too often we believe the guidance comes in the form of demands or orders. That’s not the case. Our goal should be to give them the tools they need to make their own decisions. We have to trust in our own ability and trust in our child’s ability. We have to know we did the best we could and now it is up to us to let our child lead their own life.
Easier said than done, right?
How often do we judge our children, even when we think we aren’t? How often do we project our own fears, disillusions, and failures onto our children? How often do we feel disappointed in our child’s choices and decisions based on decisions we have made in life?
These are important questions and a few that I have been struggling with recently. I sometimes have difficulty separating their life from my own. And I know this is entirely wrong.
It is easy for me to see my child’s relationship as being the wrong one. It is easy for me to see my child is making a mistake by picking a career that may or may not lead to financial success. It is easy for me to judge my child for making a choice I feel will lead him or her into a bitter, cold, depressing life. It’s easy because those are things I have done. And I need to change those projections, and soon.
What may have been a mistake for us may be the best choice for them. What may have led us to despair and heartbreak may lead our children to rich, full lives. And if it doesn’t? We must not project our pain onto them but must rise above, be there to offer support, and let our children learn from their own experiences. We can’t always coddle them and wrap them in bubble wrap. We can’t protect them from heart ache. But we can give them our full acceptance, love, support, guidance, and encouragement. It won’t always be easy, but as mothers we know doing the right thing for our kids isn’t always easy, but it is essential to all of our well-being.
I am not fully ready to let go and apply this knowledge, but I never will be. I know, however, through many tears and smiles, through nights spent in worry and days full of laughter, I can do this and my relationship with my children will be stronger. My children will also be healthier, well-adjusted and able to overcome obstacles, exactly what I want for my children. And if they fall I will be here waiting with a hot cup of cocoa, tissues, and a loving embrace and will encourage them to get back up and try again.
Click here for a link to the publications written by Tina Toler Keel.