I believe that we are born with tools that we will need to fulfill our purpose, whatever that is. Some tools we collect along the way and the rest of the time we spend sharpening and honing the tools we were just born with.
Some of us need those strong personalities to get through some bigger challenges that our life has to offer. Some of us have deep empathy that help us connect with ones that need our message. Some of us are raising young ones that came with some seriously intense traits that could serve them so well later in life when they learn to use them. In the meantime, they often sharpen and hone those tools on their parents.
We know how brutal stress and too much cortisol is on the body and mind. We are encouraged to take the steps to decrease these in our lives…but what if we gave birth to them?! (I say this with a giggle, girls.) We can’t change them, but we can change our thoughts about them and our thoughts about what our job is. This is what triggers the mental component of stress.
When we are taking more responsibility for our kids’ behavior than we actually have, we are often thinking, “I’m ruining my child!” or “I can’t do this right!” or “He won’t listen to me!”. We need to get in the habit of asking how our thoughts are serving us. If you find that you are thinking things that increase your stress, ask yourself some of these questions:
Can I truly control how my child behaves?
Can I truly manage what they know or what they think?
Do I think it is my job to make them behave a certain way?
Do I think it is my job to make sure they know or think certain things?
If you find yourself believing that you can control their thoughts, feelings, or actions…this is the perfect recipe for stress, frustration, discouragement, and “failure”.
If you find yourself believing that it is your job to manage their thoughts, feelings, or actions…of course you are going to bust out every move you can think of to get it done. But it can’t be done. It’s not yours, love, and that’s okay. Because you were born with tools too. You have everything you need to make it through what you are given, and you are given your own thoughts, feelings, and actions to manage. That’s it.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t have expectations of your children and it doesn’t mean you don’t set good, healthy, appropriate boundaries to protect yourself and others from poor behavior and choices on their part, but you don’t need to feel the emotional attachment of personal failure when your child exercises their right to try out some of their tools.
What can you do about your thoughts about your job as a parent?
What if you believe that your job is to do your best to teach them, to love them, to protect them. At the end of the day, can you look at your own efforts, and you are the ONLY one who knows how hard you tried, and say that you taught them, you loved them, you protected them regardless of what they chose to do with your efforts? How different would your life and stress levels be?
What can you do to change your thoughts about their choices?
What if you believe, when you see some sassy, disrespectful, strong-willed defiance, you choose to see someone who has been given determination, a sense of independence, the will to set boundaries, and they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do with them? Those skills may be just what they need later in life. They may have come with tools that are like giving a toddler a chainsaw and they are working that McCulloch like nobody’s business learning how to handle and use that sucker.
But maybe you’re raising a lumberjack.
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