I have an internal battle going on. I really want my children to be a better version of me. Who has thought that? Seems pretty harmless….because…well, the word better is in it. But there is a huge problem with that statement. The problem is the word me. My children will never be me. They are growing up in different eras, with different technologies, parents, friends, and the environment.
Yet, even though I see this, I fight with it as I want to ensure (or control) their development. I want them to be in certain ways and not in other ways.
When I began my training with the Fitzgerald Institute, I was really blown away by something Jeanine Fitzgerald said. At the time, it seemed like a beautiful harmless epiphany. Little did I know it would be a constant struggle for me because I have to remind myself every day of this. I am paraphrasing here based on what I heard:
“When your children are born, they are strangers to you. You have no idea who they are or who they will become. Parenting is a discovery process. You don’t know them, and they do not know you. Your job as a parent is to help them become more of who they already are (not your predefined ideas).”
Draw out and help cultivate the person they already are….not a better version of me…not the person who I want them to become….the best version of themselves.….
Easy concept, right? HA!
What a struggle this is! I never thought about it in that way until Jeanine spoke those inspiring words. Immediately I bought in and was excited to cultivate them and bring forth more of who they are inside….not the 2036 PGA Tour Champion I was secretly hoping for (yes, humor).
So two battles are going on here. The first battle comes down to allow them to be who they are while also holding the responsibility for how they are interacting with the world! When I am responsible for something, I want and try to be in FULL CONTROL. The second battle I face is not forcing my dreams upon them.
Although it is a struggle for me on the home front, it works like magic at my job. You see, I have no responsibility in raising anyone at work. So, with that thought, yes, I can inspire people to be a better version of themselves. As a trainer, my true responsibility stops at teaching them skills or knowledge. I have no say with what happens with their career afterward as they are responsible for doing the best that they can (however, I do care that they are successful, but it is not in my span of control). With kids…I am responsible.
My battle continues, but I am getting better at this every day. My kids are guided now more than ever. I am not pressing them into a defined mold to make them the shape I want them to be, as that will create resentment and friction. Treating them like Play Dough; pressing them through the Fun Factory will erode trust and push them away…but still, internally, I have the voices:
My ego says: NOOO! JUST DO IT MY WAY…YOU HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS!
My heart says: Show by example and allow them to develop in their own way. The way that they need to be…the way that works best for who they are.
The following analogy has helped me immensely keep things in perspective.
Our job as a parent is to plant the seed in the soil and tend to it. THAT IS IT. We plant the seed and make sure the soil is right; the environment is right (get enough water, nourishment, little trimming, light exposure, temperature, etc.). Tending, tending, tending, always tending to the environment until it is self-sufficient.
However, we do not tell the seed how to do its magic. The seed knows when to pop. The seed knows how to grow. The seed knows what it is and how it will grow. Given the correct environment, the magic of life emerges. Continually tend to the environment and influence rather than force.
See the difference? Our job is only to create the optimal conditions for the child to grow and learn. When the right conditions are met, a child will automatically flourish, just like the plant.
I am learning not to worry. I am learning not to try to control life. What I have noticed when my child’s optimal conditions are met, they are magnetized to me, I have greater influence, and they naturally pick up on our family values.
Create the right environment and let life take care of life. Cherish this stranger, you are getting to know. They have a magic all their own, and that will be more beautiful than any predefined mold we can press them in.
Photo by Ravi Roshan via Unsplash