Put your black shoes on. Not your running shoes, the red ones with the bow. They match your dress. Put your green jacket on, the one with the stripes, it's cold. Eat your fruit. Dinner is ready, stop playing and join us. 1...2...3...Sound familiar?
We spend a lot of our precious time telling our kids what to do and interfering in their everyday activities. Our constant need to interfere with our children's lives and control their behaviour and outcome, has become somewhat of an obsession and it’s weighing us down as moms.
We are bombarded on our social media feeds with rules on how to raise our children. From Authoritarian parenting that preaches full control over these entitled and selfish beings, to Permissive parenting that is more child-centered with almost no control. I don't like labels to begin with as they only add to the pressure of parenting, but that's another blog topic altogether. With so many rules and regulations, I feel like you almost need a license or certification to raise kids!
As Khalil Gibran once wrote: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Our children are not ours. They don't belong to us and are not our property. Then what right do we have to do with them what we please and control them the way we think they should speak, think and act? They are life, individuals with set personalities, thoughts, emotions...and controlling every aspect of their lives only suffocates them and prevents them from becoming who they're meant to be, not who we envision them to become.
I'm not saying we should let our kids hang off telephone wires and eat gummy bears for breakfast, lunch and dinner until they're sick. As parents, we are here to guide, teach and care for these tiny beings, not mould them into who and what we think they should be.
Believe me when I say this is still a work-in-progress for me as well. As a recovering control freak, I often find it very hard to let go and accept that my kids are who they are and not who I expect them to be.
I sometimes ask myself some key questions that have helped me to let go. What would happen if my daughter did wear her running shoes instead of her black shoes? Would any harm come to her or anyone else? Would others make fun of a 7-year old for not matching? Does it matter? That last one is the most important question of all: "Does it matter?". More often than not, it doesn’t.
Parenting is not about having children depend or lean on you, but raising and guiding them well enough to make that leaning unnecessary. As one of the greatest teachers of our time Dr. Wayne Dyer once said: "[Children] have a compass, let them follow their own compass; freeing you up to be your own person on your own time and allowing them to become who they are to become."
Imagine that. If we let go of the control we try to have on our children (and often fail), we become free to be who we truly are. So the energy we spend trying to impose our own ideals on our children can be spent on developing who we are, thus allowing them to transform into who they're truly meant to become.
These children were created in the most natural form, so why is it that when they're born, we presume to know what's best for them? It's quite egotistical of us don't you think? Why is it so hard for us to simply stay on the sidelines, observe and provide guidance without interfering with a child's natural desires and inclinations?
I think the key lies within our own motivations for that control. Are we trying to redirect our child's behaviour or decision because of a need or want we have, or because it is truly in the best interest of that child, based on a need they have? I think we all need an ego check to reveal who's needs we are trying to fulfill when trying to control or direct our child. Is it a reflection of our own wants? Is it for you or for them?
We often project our own insecurities onto these tiny beings. If she wears her mismatched socks and fairy wings to school, what would the teachers think of me? They’ll likely say she’s a careless mom who has no taste in clothes. These are imaginary stories we tell ourselves and we believe them to be true. And so what if they are? Does it matter?
So let's all start practicing non-interference today. I use the word practicing because it really is a habit that can be learned using baby steps. It will hurt at first as that control will burn up inside of you like a ravenous fire, but as you continue letting go, you will feel this sense of total deliverance and freedom, like everything is flowing naturally without resistance, a sensation that will soon become addictive.