27 Aug Back To School–An Opportinuty For Parents To Let Go…
First of all….Where did the summer go??
As the school year quickly approached this year I, like many parents, prepared for my 4th grader and 10th grader to head back to school!
While I work from home (or Starbucks) the majority of the time, this was a blessing because it meant that I get the house all to myself again and I can enjoy writing and coaching in peace and quiet. (Hooray!) At the same time, it has also brought up many challenges, emotions and opportunities for me to grow.
Since this is a blog and not a diary, I’ll start by sharing one of the biggest opportunities I’ve experienced…
As parents, we can guide and control our kids in many ways on a daily basis. We can stop them from running through a parking lot, we can put a halt to their socializing on and offline, we can tell them when to go to bed, what to eat, what to wear, how to act in public and even when to go to the bathroom. But, there is one thing you simply cannot stop your kids from doing. And that is, growing up. Sad, but true, I know.
So, whether our children are headed off for their first day of kindergarten or their first year of college this year, we, as parents must learn how to let go. This is no easy fete for most parents, some more than others.
If our kids only knew just how difficult it is for mom and dad to let them go, maybe they would be the ones offering words of encouragement to us instead. Moms seem to especially have a hard time with letting our offspring go because we are hard wired to protect our kids and we just want to put them in a bubble, never let them get hurt and never let them go. Or is that just me?
As a life coach, it is my job to provide tools to my clients to assist them with, well, life. Which means I too, must be willing to take my own advice. So, I’ve come up with a few tools that have been useful for me this school year and I wanted to share them with you…
Pop Goes the Weasel…Errrrr…The Bubble
Although our intentions are good, in the big picture, keeping our kids in a bubble actually does no justice for them. Deep down, we “know” this, but our actions say otherwise. This was a realization I’ve recently had to come to terms with. While my son entered the 10th grade, I found myself replaying all the “what-if’s” in my head. “What if he gets in with the wrong crowd, what if he isn’t well received at his new school, what if he’s bullied, what if he doesn’t make the basketball team, what if he falls victim to peer-pressure and makes bad choices…” I found myself beginning to spin out of control with all that could go wrong this year. Luckily, I caught myself and as with anything, awareness is the first step.
I began reflecting and I reminded myself that fear, will never go away. As a parent, I will never stop worrying, caring and loving my children; no matter how old they are. That is a fact. So, I had two choices. I could either.
A.) Put myself in the loony bin by endlessly worrying.
B.) I could choose to look at fear differently.
I went with the latter of the two. Here’s how I re-framed that four-letter word F word F-E-A-R…
At the heart of my worrying, really what I want for my children is for them to become independent, happy, kind, hard-working adults, who love what they do. Amongst many other things, those are my basics desires for my children. If I take a closer look and ask myself how I could help them achieve that, my answer is both frightening and freeing.
The same way a baby learned to walk, our children will learn by, well, falling down. If you pay careful attention to a toddler learning to walk, you will see they are eager to get up (or down) and gooooooo. They don’t care if they are wobbly or they fall down not once, not twice, but over and over again. They repeatedly, find their balance and get back up and try again until they’ve mastered “the walk”.
There was a time, you too struggled to find your balance, but eventually, you learned by falling down, both figuratively and literally. This is how our children are learning. When they make mistakes, they learn. If not immediately, eventually they will begin to connect the dots. In the meantime, our job as parents is not to necessarily guide and protect them from the falls of life, but rather, be there to hold their hand when they do inevitably fall. In those difficult parenting moments, it is helpful to remember that life is providing you with a priceless teaching moment. The most valuable life lessons cannot be taught in school or through words, but through experience alone.
Personally, I don’t believe in failures, I view all “failures” as life’s way of saying, “Hey, not this way, but let’s try this way.” The person who “fails” is the one who doesn’t try. We learn by trial and error and so will our children. When we know what we don’t want, we quickly realize what we do want. It’s a natural process and it also applies to our children. Like the scraped knee that eventually left a scar, your children will learn by falling, ultimately, making them just a little bit stronger and a lot wiser. By allowing them to fall, you in fact, are making them stronger.
So as you send your little and big tikes off to preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high-school and college this year, be willing to let go of their hand and allow them to find their path by letting them fall every now and then.
It is no secret that children learn by example, so be willing to look closely at how you respond to your own “failures”. Don’t be afraid to admit your own trials, tribulations and mistakes to your children. Our kids not only want to know that their parents aren’t perfect, but more importantly; they need to know that they are “normal”. After all, a big part of life is simply falling down. 🙂
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