One of the things I’ve been focusing on lately with my kids is allowing them to take full ownership of their choices.
I’m learning that rather than trying to control them, it works much better to teach them to control themselves. It’s not easy and many people don’t understand, but I’m trying to stop powering up and forcing them to behave in ways I like.
Instead, they get options.
It usually goes something like, “We’re having chicken and vegetables for dinner. You’ll probably want to eat yours. It’s no problem if you choose not to. The rest of us will be having a little dessert afterwards. It’s totally up to you to decide.”
Initially, that may sound like manipulation, but said calmly with empathy, it’s purely presenting the facts and allowing them to take ownership of their choices.
I’ve let go of my death grip on the outcome.
I started this as a way of letting go of my own frustration and exhaustion with trying to control their behavior. What I’m learning though, is that it was their choice all along. I was only pretending it was mine.
As a result of this process, I’ve watched them mature a great deal.
They’re no longer performing for my approval or to avoid my disappointment. They’re making choices about their own lives. They’re motivated by their own knowledge and desires. They’ve become more confident and they’re making better choices, more quickly.
So am I.
It’s slowly healing some of the brokenness in our relationship from my yelling and completely losing my temper with them. When I choose to say out loud, “No problem”, it reinforces, that their behavior really isn’t a problem for me. It’s my choice to let them take ownership of it.
That has allowed me to take so many deep breaths I was missing. It’s given me space think more clearly and make better parenting choices. It’s made me a much more confident mother.
It’s true for all of us, parents or not.
Owning your power to choose, brings freedom.
You can live in the world, reacting to what happens to you and trying to seek approval from others. Or you can be intent on living in the freedom that you always have a choice. You may not like all your options, but it’s totally up to you to decide.
Think about a circumstance in your life today where you feel powerless.
Where do you feel like you don’t have any choice?
Where do you feel totally stuck?
Now think about how that might shift if you let go of trying to control it and instead made a different choice about how you respond to it.
I have a feeling you’ll feel a little more freedom, a little less stress, and a little more strength.
Try it out! Let me know how it goes.
To more love,
P. S. Isn’t it amazing how we are designed to learn and grow from our relationships? We really do need each other.