the nest

the nest

Monday, July 29, 2013

Letting go, bit by bit...

The more I allow my children to be responsible for themselves the more I enjoy being with them.  

I think that one of the more difficult parts of parenting for me has been being patient enough to let my children be responsible for themselves.
How many of us have finished tying shoes, finished making beds, done assorted chores because they didn't get done, stayed up to finish projects?
Sometimes it has just been easier to do it myself.  Not useful to my children I'm afraid.
As I've been focusing more and more at letting them deal with the "consequences," good and bad, of their actions, and being there for them without trying to "make it better", I've realized how many things I have not allowed them to do as they've gotten older.  They are more than capable people and can pretty much do whatever we put in their lap, but too often, I get impatient and do it myself.
In the past when I thought about this, I would worry that they would never learn how to take care of themselves, a home, or others.  What I see now is that they are more than capable of doing those things.  It isn't hard to learn how to do laundry or clean a bathroom or kitchen.
The negative impact comes in where our relationship is concerned.  When I give a child a task, then get frustrated when it doesn't get done (or done well enough), the real loser is me.  I get annoyed, either do the task or not, and then don't enjoy that particular child.
When I give a task, insist it gets done and then stay out of the way, I have a whole different feeling about the same child.
This past weekend, the youngest needed to clean her room.  She also wanted to go shopping.  I said there was no shopping until the room was clean.  The room got clean, shopping got done, and I thoroughly enjoyed time with my child.  The difference?  I didn't set foot in the room being cleaned.  I STAYED OUT OF THE WAY.  Did she get everything she wanted?  No - shopping was much shorter than she had anticipated as it took way too long to clean her room, so time was limited.  Did she get upset?  No.  She knew that was the consequence of taking too long.
Now this is kind of no brainer where chores and other concrete activities are involved.  The advanced level is keeping myself emotionally detached from their feelings.  As kids get older, life happens and life is not always fun.  Problems arise and while I think that it's important to "be there" for them, I have to stop feeling responsible for helping them "feel better."  I am not responsible for their feelings and can only try to keep my own emotions from complicating a situation that is not mine to deal with.  Thoughts for them.
1) Life doesn't always feel good
2) Sometimes we learn the most from the hardest situations
3) Know when to ask for help
4) Pray, meditate, breathe
5) One way or another it works out
6) You don't have to "do it yourself"
7) Stay true to yourself and your core beliefs

Watching children grow up is bittersweet.  They grow up and move on and that is as it should be.  Why waste time being annoyed?  Perhaps if our time together is relaxed and happy they will continue to come back to play.  Perhaps if their "situations" don't turn me into a bundle of drama, they will feel less responsible for my emotional well-being and more comfortable coming home to just be.

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