Don’t Hijack Your Children

My son has been afraid lately. He has a hard time falling asleep because he is afraid of the dark. I sat up with him last night in bed and we talked about why he has been afraid. Jake is good at talking about his feelings, and although sometimes he has a hard time connecting the string of events in his life together to reveal why he is feeling these emotions, he is honest and authentic with his feelings and together we can trace them back. We spoke about some issues at school he was having and together, as a family, we came up with some collective solutions that he could use, but ultimately the choice is his. The exercise seemed to work because he fell asleep without having to pull the covers over his head.

My wife and I have made the decision that it is our duty to allow our children the freedom to experience life from the driver’s seat and not as a passenger.

If you don’t believe in reincarnation this part might be hard to understand…but we all come into this life as a consciousness or soul that has had many experiences through various times and places. You have created relationships and experiences that flow through different lives. Realizing this, how can we assume responsibility for our children’s plans and contracts…by not allowing them the freedom to experience failure or success or heartache or disappointment or accomplishment, we hijack their potential to evolve. 

Your child might be using the people that he/she have chosen to surround themselves with for insight into their character. These human inter-dynamics are networked and interconnected far more than you and I could ever understand and although you might find these relationships or experiences deconstructive, it very well might be an opportunity for your child’s immense growth. Listen, that is not to say that you shouldn’t be an activist for your child by not getting involved when they are in danger either physically, psychologically or emotionally. But it does mean that, by allowing situations to unfold by their design, you afford your children tremendous opportunities for growth.    

What am I really saying? As a generation, we are collectively depriving our children the experiences and growth opportunities that accompany failure, disappointment, conflict or disagreement. Do you overstep your boundaries with your children? Have you tried so hard to insulate your children from life’s oscillation that you have unprepared them for their futures? Don’t misunderstand…I am an advocate for my child but will not hijack them from the driver’s seat.  

As parents we have made the conscious decision to let our children experience life to the fullest and that means allowing them to fail, to problem solve their own conflicts, to experience disappointment and work for success.

Let me say that writing the words are a lot easier than remaining a passenger in both of their lives when things go wrong. My first inclination is to try and fix it for them…call the teacher, talk to the coach, confront a parent…but that is not always the best decision.  My wife always says, “Conflict equals growth” and I never really appreciated that saying until recently. I have realized, that for me, the times in my life when I have achieved the greatest growth is after the experience of true conflict with no way out but to face it head on. It has been hard to be the kind of parent that empowers my children to fail…and quite frankly, my wife is a lot better at it than me. But I am getting better.

Passenger or Driver? Allowing your children to be a driver of his/her own life means that you let them fail, but pick them up after, dust them off and put them right back on the horse.

Allow your children the opportunity for conflict, give them the tools to fix it, but don’t do it for them. Let your children make some decisions that you might feel aren’t the best for them.

Last year Jake wanted to play baseball and I tried to sway him from playing t-ball and going right into coach pitch…but he wanted t-ball. Halfway through the season he was bored and wished he had played coach pitch…but he made the decision and was better off for it. Empower your children to drive their lives but spend the time teaching them drivers training.

It’s interesting, I wrote that 12 years ago when my children were 5 & 7. Since then, there have been literally thousands of situations just like the one described with my kids. Currently, it is all about getting into college and all those situations that happen once your kids are in college. It’s funny because whether your kids are 3, 10 or 19 the landscape doesn’t seem to change much when it comes to letting them navigate or are you navigating for them.          

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