Children Making Choices

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Recently I re-engaged with a former acquaintance who since I saw her last had become a joyful mother to 2 adorable children. One of her comments was understandable and beautiful - “They are my whole world”.

I well remember that feeling myself as the mother to three children! My children are now adults and I’d say it would be fair to say that I was very involved in their lives. As a caring mother I believed part of my role was to protect them and that is undoubtedly true to some level but it can go too far if we venture into the role of rescuer as well. You know how it can easily happen, perhaps they’ve had a problem in the playground and it’s tempting to go on up and sort it out for them with the teacher. That’s a possibility but one that ultimately denies them opportunities to solves problems for themselves.

I learned over time and through my own journey of personal discovery that recuing and over-protecting are not helpful in the long run. For me the temptation to rescue is still there, even with adult children but it is one I have learned to resist. It doesn’t mean abandoning our children, far from it! Instead it means giving them the freedom and confidence to make choices and feel the power and sense of accomplishment this can bring to their lives. At some point, our children strive towards becoming independent souls and here lies one of the great challenges of parenthood – letting them go to find their own place and sometimes it’s not one that we would choose for them. As mindful parents we need to remember a child’s life journey is their own and not ours! They have the right to make choices and our unconditional love as a parent is what they really need from us.

There are times when this is hard. Looking through experienced eyes we may believe that certain choices may lead to difficult consequences but protecting our children from those consequences is not our role. More it can be to give comfort and support when life gets uncomfortable but becoming the continual rescuer and decision maker is not our role as a parent. Learning the realities of life through our own experiences is a gift each of us deserves to discover.

Depending on their ages, their abilities and circumstances each parent will need to determine when and how those independent choices are best undertaken but undertaken they must be made if we are to foster a generation of responsible, caring people who rely on themselves to make mindful choices about how to live their lives and take their place in the wider world.