“Trust me.” If you are a parent, I am sure you have heard these words before. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when your child utters those words? Okay, how about this one, “You never believe in me.”, or maybe, “I am not a baby.”, or “I know what I am doing.” I could come up with a laundry list of cute comments, but you get my drift. Our children want to be independent, correct, and feel like they have all the answers. Listening to their parents seems like the worst thing in the world.
Most can agree being a parent is one of the greatest joys in life and one of the most challenging. Once you sign on for that job title, you have agreed to a lifelong career with a job description miles long. If you think once your kids leave the nest your job is over, you are wrong. The problems, worries, and issues are just different. I might venture to say the problems might even be more significant, scarier and more disturbing. With maturity comes sophisticated problems and issues, not to mention you have little to no authority over your adult children. In fact, once they turn 18, your clout and control diminish. If you are lucky enough to have a close relationship with your child/children they may grant you permission to speak on their behalf until you both agree they are ready to handle issues on their own.
I have found knowing when just to listen and when to insert my opinion is like walking a tightrope. I want my girls to be independent, self-sufficient and manage issues as they arise. But at the same time, they will always be my babies, and I will always keep a watchful eye. This just doesn’t vanish with age. As a mom, I need to make sure they don’t get hurt, and they stay on the right path. I want to be there to answer questions if they have them, and of course, insert my mom opinions for the greater good (asked for or not).
I feel most things in life can be a teaching moment or at least teach us a lesson as long as we are willing to open ourselves up to the possibility that we don’t know everything. Unfortunately, when the need arises to admit we are wrong or just don’t understand something, a multitude of feelings begin to surface such as vulnerability, anger, incompetence, imperfection, and fear. Once those feelings get a hold of you, the mind kicks into the fight or flight mode and your off.
So while holding (or trying to) my tongue when either of my girls, in the most animated voice, recites one of those famous phrases I need to remember I don’t know everything and that they must learn from their own mistakes. My opinions about their lives come from a place of love and fear of the unknown. What I would love my girls to understand is that as much as I trust and believe in them, I have a job to do as their parent. I must teach them what I have learned, guide them around specific danger, offer suggestions, views, different possibilities or options. My advice is not a criticism of their choices or a dis-belief of their vision or knowledge, but merely a broader spectrum for them to use and make decisions from. Trust me when I tell you I am still learning and I love that fact. If only we embraced the beauty of that knowledge at a much younger age.
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