Parenting is a journey. It’s a non-stop olympic event. It’s a gauntlet we voluntarily run. And you and I want to make it work, to achieve success as often as possible, so our kids become the adults of our dreams. But in the process, at times, we make ourselves crazy, especially when our kids stray from the desired path.
Sometimes it’s little things. Sometimes they demand to wear two different-colored socks. Or they choose to hang out with a kid we’re not overly fond of. Or they won’t say hi to Pastor Mike on the way out of the sanctuary.
And sometimes it’s big things. Sometimes they demand to have an extra hour out on a Saturday night, even though there’s that family visit early Sunday morning. Or they insist on not studying for an upcoming history exam. Or they refuse to apologize to their sister for hurting her feelings.
We want to get our kids to do these things, and in the moment, these things matter to us, a lot. And we get wound up about them. And we pull our hair and cry into our pillows and allow the frustration and the worry to consume us like a plague.
And I get that. It’s real. The pain, the anguish, the deep-seated, pit-of-our-stomach worry is real and it’s reasonable. It’s part of being a serious, devoted parent.
But sometimes it’s just not necessary.
So I say this to myself, and to you: Don’t Be Married To What It Looks Like.
In other words, when my kid heads down a path that is not one I would have them choose, I pause and check with myself, asking myself a few questions: Will they die? Will two different socks endanger them or cause them irreparable social outcasting? Will a night of staying out late and getting less sleep stunt their growth?
If the situation is serious, then sure, I’ve got to deal with it, and with my kid. If they’re making a poor choice and I need to convince them to choose a different path, then so be it. Maybe there will be a tense conversation, but I’ve got to accept that and get in there and do my job. However, if the risk that they are taking will give them a healthier ego, and if the worst possible outcome won’t be too much of a big deal, then I need to let them go and do and be happy with themselves, no matter what the result may look like.
If I keep a loose grip on my idea of success, if I keep my expectations balanced, if I accept whatever results emerge from the efforts of my children, I find happiness at the end of the day.
by Stu Mark
Photo graciously provided by fd, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved