In the previous post, I spoke of how over-involved we get in parenting our children. What would be some reasons that I might get overly identified with their comfort, ease or success?
An option for parents is to do a little curious digging to understand what feels at stake when a child makes a blunder which can make room for a parent to uncover what they can contribute to the kiddo’s success.
Let me describe a process. I often see families doing their best effort to support their children. They remove practical barriers and exert emotional pressure.
The reverse is much more helpful. Remove emotional barriers and allow the practical barriers to exert the natural pressure on the children.
What does this look like? Here’s an example. A kiddo wants their learner’s permit. A parent might want this for the child, too, so they will exhort, cajole, nag and lecture on the importance of finishing the online driver’s school. All the while, the parent might log on, walk through the program to see how difficult it truly is. Call the instructor to see if an extension in time can be made so kiddo can graduate with his/her friends. All the while, kiddo gets no closer to finishing the class and is annoyed with parent and parent is annoyed with kiddo and feeling anxious about the child’s choices.
Here’s another option. Get out of the process and ask yourself “Who’s problem is this?” This is obviously the child’s problem. Let the practical barriers do the teaching and stay out of the emotional process. Get off their back. Your anxiety will likely only delay the process for the child. We, often, as parents let our identity get entangled in the process of our children’s functioning. Your best gift is to not take personal the successes or mistakes your child is making. It’s not about you – and if you make it about you, you get in the way.
How do I do this? Go do your own work. Our preoccupation with our children does not benefit them, and I would say actively gets in the way of their growth. Talk to someone and figure out what unmet needs you have that your children’s behavior might be filling the slot.
Understand where you overidentify with their behavior. That sounds like, “I need you to be a certain way to know that I’m ok” and “Your behavior informs me how I’m doing in this life.”
Your work on this offers them the freedom to make mistakes and learn in a way that gets to belong to them for the rest of their life!