We all make them. At least we should.
It's what we do after we've made the mistake that makes the difference in the lives of our children.
I made a big mistake last week. One that bothered me the whole day, until I could talk it out with friends who know me and my children, and I was able to make amends.
It took me making myself vulnerable, swallowing my pride. It was embarrassing and really hard to do!
It's the tough love against letting go.
But it was more about maintaining a relationship.
Trying to control our children can destroy a relationship. Trying to get them to think or act JUST LIKE us is dangerous. It's confusing sometimes: When is it tough love and the knowing that your child needs you to be tough? When is it trying to instill YOUR values into a child who might be old enough to begin to think for him/herself and not agree? And when is it more important to let go so as not to drive a wedge in your relationship?
Those who knew me as a teenager know I didn't have the best relationship with my parents. There are a lot of reasons to point to, but I think mostly it was because my parents, with all their love and caring for me, just didn't understand me - I didn't understand me?! - I was a complicated, emotional teenage girl. I did a lot of things they would not have wanted me to do. I snuck around. I lied. I led a secret life my parents knew nothing about. I was exploring my world and trying to figure out my own values.
But the one thing I can admit today is, that even though I snuck around and didn't tell them anything about my life, I always knew deep-down, that my parents would be there for me, with no anger or judgement, even when I was puking in a toilet after a high school party!!
Many of the values I have as a parent are based on what my parents, my friends, my community, my religious life, and society made me believe. Ari and I had (and continue to have) many discussions about the values we want for our children and family and home. Most times we agree...
It's hard to separate out what is it I
believe from what everyone else has made me believe. Or I have chosen to believe?
Last week, I had to think real hard about what I
believe. What do I really care about? And what I came up with is: nothing is more important than my relationship with my children! Letting them know that at the end of the day, I love them unconditionally. I can choose to not agree with what they are doing, and maybe even be frustrated or disappointed (my kids call it the "D word") in their choice. But I can still accept them. And let them grow and face their own difficulties. Letting them also know I am here for them whenever they might need.
It's not a natural response for me always. I battle with the voice that says he/she has to do exactly what I want them to do. Or behave the way I want them to. I don't want to embarrass myself in my community. I don't want people to question my values or lifestyle. It's easy to say
we don't care what others think, but is it really, honestly true?
When I can be quiet enough within myself, and listen to what it is I
really believe, then I can maintain my relationship with my child and let go, feeling content to know my child will be ok. He/she isn't going to die from his/her choices. (Of course we aren't talking about doing something illegal or life/death choices!) They might just struggle and suffer a little. They might cry or feel sad or guilty for making a mistake. OR they might revel in knowing they made the right choice for THEMSELVES!
And then I get to be real and honest with myself. Knowing I chose to listen to my OWN VOICE!
THAT is the best feeling in the world.
So learning from our mistakes CAN be healing. If we let it...