Thursday, March 27, 2014

Show and Tell: Becoming a Parent My Kids Can Actually Follow

Remember the time in elementary school when you got to bring an item in for "show and tell"?  It would've been really awkward to just stand there holding up the item you brought in without ever telling the class why the item merited being shown in the first place, and if you just told about the item without ever getting it out of your backpack to show it to the class...well, that'd be equally awkward and just plain weird.  It takes both showing and telling to get the importance revealed.

Parenting is a lot like "show and tell."  If you only show your kids how to live by leading them everywhere, always walking in front of them leading the way, then your children will have a leader only.  If you only tell your kids how to live by walking with them every step of the way reminding them and telling them which choices to make, then your children will have a counselor only.  Parenting takes both showing and telling...both leadership and guidance.

Here's the thing...I think I might have messed this parenting thing up a bit.  My natural instinct has been to parent with guidance only, walking alongside my children and talking them through the way they live life.  Every move they make, I'm there watching them just like a Police song.  I'm always there around every turn, usually hovering in case they start to fall.  There's a big problem with this childen actually never do get to fall, and they also rarely fail.  I'm rearing kids who'll never move on or outgrow me...they'll always need me and be dependent on my approval and that really what I want for them?  

What outcomes would I like my children to have when they leave my perfect little nest which is actually an illusion that I perpetuate as long as I never step out in front of my kids and actually lead them.  My nest isn't perfect, and it's not really about my goals and outcomes anyway.  What am I so afraid of?  Honestly, I fear that they actually won't want to follow me, so I hide my vulnerability from everyone as I keep walking right by their side...always guiding, never leading.

Well, there's only one solution...I'm going to have to be a parent of leadership instead of only guidance.  Instead of walking my kids through every trial, I need to walk ahead of them SHOWING them the way instead of just telling them about the way as we walk it together.  Then, when I look back and check, I can pick them up when they fall flat on their face instead of always being there to make sure they never fall in the first place.

Kids are going to make mistakes, and if we always walk alongside of them...we'll take their mistakes personally, like their mistakes are a reflection of us because we've made it to be that way.  I cannot really help my kids in this life if I'm so personally attached to their blunders and think that they reflect on me.  If I parent this way, my own reputation becomes the focus, and that leads to making their mistakes into my failure.  What I need to do is get my own life!  And, when I do, I will be able to lead my kids and lay guidance on the side of the path sometimes.

In the end when my job is balanced with showing and telling, I'll be able to rest in my empty nest that's not perfect.  And, I want my kids to be brave enough to take the path they choose which is not necessarily the path a parent would choose as the "most acceptable."  I desire that my kids use their gifts and talents and passions, and my greatest advice to them would be "Don't Waste It" meaning that they have been blessed with a life to live and they need to live it well.  

I don't have every insight into my children's souls, and as much as I hate to admit it, my kids know themselves better than I will ever know them.  What I have to do now is to be brave enough to walk ahead of least a few that they can learn to make good choices independent of me but also so not too far ahead of them so that they will see an example of someone they can follow...someone who loves them, someone who makes mistakes, falls, but gets back up.  

Lead your children to a life instead of living theirs with them.  

No comments:

Post a Comment