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I’m a mom. I’ve mentioned that before I know. (um … almost every time. sheepish grin) I have learned a lot in the years I’ve had children. And because I have 7, I’ve had ample opportunity to learn how to manage and respond to MANY different types of personalities. Children – people in general – they’re all different, of course. Each has their own unique way of learning and dealing with life. It’s not a “one size fits all” kind of deal, to be a parent. It’s a “learn as you go” and “each one has different needs” sort of thing.
One thing I have found extremely helpful, is learning to allow each of my children to develop and grow in the way that is best suited for him or her. I can’t set one guideline and expect all 7 of my children to follow it precisely in exactly the same way and have it help them flourish. That doesn’t work. They are so different, so unique, so truly individual that each one needs their own guidance and unique “guidelines” to help them move toward growth.
My job as a mother is not to set rules and make sure my kids live them. My job is to help them be healthy and happy. How will they learn to do that? That depends on the kid and the experiences they’re faced with, the opportunities I have to teach them, and their willingness to be open and to learn.
Do they need “rules?” Yeah. They need guidelines to help them. But I think it’s important for me to help my kids understand that rules aren’t there to control them, and if they are, they’re not helpful. Rules or guidelines should be there to help them see HOW to live in a way that is healthy and that will be most advantageous to their expansion.
If there are rules in place, just for the sake of controlling the environment so they won’t “mess up” or do “bad stuff” I’m not allowing my kid to grow. I’m not giving them the opportunity to live in the world that is here and to learn to deal with all the things that will come into their experience. What good is a rule that is set in place to keep my child away from things if it doesn’t help them understand WHY those things are “good” or “bad” for them and HOW to deal with them if they encounter them in their life.
I have found it extremely vital to teach my kids the WHYS and HOWS. Without those there are just rules for the sake of control and “protection” which doesn’t help the kid long term. It’s a fear based mentality.
I want to take fear out of it. There’s nothing TO fear. My child’s worth is the same as mine. Unchangeable. Unalterable. Set. There is nothing that can alter it. So all the experiences of life are here to help us each to learn and to expand. My job as the parent then, is to guide my kid, not control everything so they’re “protected” but to help them when they need help. To point them in the healthier direction when they’re stuck. To help them pick themselves up off the ground when they fall.
If I take away every opportunity for them TO fall? I am putting them in a bubble and not trusting that divine guidance that exists within them as it does within me.
I want to help my children see that they are powerful. That their thoughts and actions and words have actual power in them. That they are capable and strong and able to do anything they desire to do. Their “divine nature” makes it so. Nothing is impossible.
I want them to learn that it’s not the circumstances outside of them that matter, but their response TO the circumstances. I want them to see that things like drugs, bullying, prejudice, violence and other things aren’t for them, not because they’re “bad” if they do them, but because they don’t produce good fruit in their life. They’re not the healthiest option. I want my kids to choose the healthier options because they understand that that is what will help them flourish and they desire to expand.
I want my children to learn through experience. That is the only way we DO learn. How many times have you seen parents try to control their kids? I’ve done it. Let me tell you … IT DOES NOT WORK. Kids cannot be controlled! They don’t like it. They don’t respond to it. It causes dissonance and triggers resistance. Every time. Maybe some kids will allow the control out of fear or something like that, but most people in life do not want to be controlled. Do you like it? I don’t. I don’t think it teaches them anything except to fear punishment and to respond in fear.
So trying to control children and forcing them through punishment into doing what YOU think is right doesn’t work. It doesn’t help them understand WHY they should do the things. I doesn’t help them know HOW to deal with whatever situation is in front of them.
Last night I had the opportunity to test this. My daughter was cleaning the family room. It’s her daily chore. She’s a teenager. She wasn’t happy about doing it, but she knows we do chores here to keep things tidy and so she was doing it. The 7 year old was in her way. She was mad and yelled at him to move. He didn’t like that. Out of spite, he planted himself in that spot and refused to move.
So the 16 year old proceeded to do her job, but every 30 seconds she yelled at him to move. Over and over and over and over. Probably 40 times she yelled at him and he continued to stand his ground.
I called her into my office where I was working because I saw a teaching moment.
I could see that she was getting angrier and more frustrated by the moment. I could also see that it would not make the 7 year old respond in the way she was wanting him to. So I took the teaching moment and talked her.
I wanted her to see the HOW and WHY here for future reference. Yes, I was a little impatient with her negative energy being flung around the house. Yes, I wanted that to stop. But more importantly, I wanted her to have a healthier response in her thoughts so in the future when a situation like this arises, she will have another choice besides getting angry and frustrated.
So we talked about accepting what is. Why do we accept what is? Because it is. It is what exists in this moment and we can’t change what is.
In this situation the “what is” was that she was cleaning, that the 7 year old was in her way, and he was not moving. Another aspect of the “what is real here” was that she can’t control others. Another aspect of the “what is real here” in this circumstance was that she CAN control her own response.
Accepting what IS always leads to a healthier response because it is seeing reality and choosing to deal with that, instead of trying to force or control something outside of your control.
So we talked about a healthier alternative. We played out the whole scene in a different way.
“How could this have been different?”
Here’s the NEW healthier situation we came up with:
“Accept what is. I have to clean the family room. Little brother won’t move. That makes me frustrated. I ask him to move several times. He still won’t move. Ok. I see that he’s not going to move. So I’m going to vacuum around him. I’m going to ignore his frustrating self and I’m going to just get the job done quickly and walk away from him and focus on something else so I don’t dwell on the fact that he’s majorly bugging me. There. I’m done and now I’m walking away and he can sit in that spot forever. That’s fine.”
I couldn’t change how she responded to this particular situation. But I could help her see that it wasn’t the BEST response. Not because she was “bad” for responding that way, but because responding that way stole her peace. She is the one who allows the peace or not and so why have a circumstance beyond her control steal that when she can keep it through responding in a different way?
I wanted to help her have a healthier response in her mind so next time she’s faced with a situation beyond her control that frustrates her so greatly, she can maybe choose a better way that helps her maintain focus and peace within her.
I made sure she knew that I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t angry for her reaction. I actually understand how frustrating it can be when kids don’t do what you want. I just desire for her to have peace. I know it feels better. I know it is a nicer way to live.
I explained that if I saw her stabbing her hand with a nail over and over and over I would ask her to stop. I would help her see that she was the one inflicting the pain in her hand and I would show her how to NOT stab herself over and over with a nail. This is like that.
The pain, the frustration, the absence of peace in our being is all due to how we respond to every circumstance we’re faced with. We are the ones that inflict the pain or not. The circumstances don’t do it. WE DO IT through our thoughts about the circumstances and our focus on the pain or the peace.
My greatest most important job then, as a parent, as a human, is to help my children and others see how they are responsible for their world and their thoughts and then to teach them the practical ways they can learn to live a healthier happier life.
The guidelines I set as a mother for my children should support that goal. They are not there to control them into doing what I think they should do. They are only meant to help my children see HOW to live. WHY these things are the healthier options.
Why do I tell you not to yell at your brother? Because your peace is dependent on your response to every person you come in contact with … 7 year old brother included.
Why do I tell you not to bully other people? Because your atmosphere is determined by what you focus on and how you respond to those around you. If you treat people badly, do you like the circumstances that come from that? Isn’t it a nicer circumstance when you treat people with kindness and love? Don’t you see how treating others in a kind way usually calls forth kindness from them too?
These are practical life lessons. These help my children move forward in a way that will GROW them and move them toward healthy living, peace, and love.
I felt really grateful last night that I am able to use everyday experiences to teach my kids. And that they will sit and talk with me and listen and respond. I understand kids are kids. Teenagers are only a little bit open, but every time we talk even if only 1/10th of what I say is remembered … over time, that will hopefully help.
The goal is for my children to be happy and live a healthy peace filled life. Exactly how they live and what they choose to do? That’s up to them. I am not responsible for that part, my part is teaching them the hows and the whys and the “embrace peace” aspects.
If I do my part well, they will flourish and I will watch them grow into individuals who love life and who know how to respond to every circumstance in love. And when they don’t respond in a way that they like I hope they will learn to see what they did that wasn’t helpful and take that lesson and use it moving forward, understanding there isn’t a “bad” just a “that wasn’t what I was going for, what can I learn from this” response.
What an adventure right? I’m continually delighted by the experiences I am a part of and the lessons I’m able to teach and LEARN just in daily living.
Parenthood is certainly a learning experience for ALL involved. I sort of love it.
honorthismoment _ #100somethings _ 28/100
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