Saturday, July 19, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by Alexis Dobbins with 0 comment

Courage to Let Our Children Be

Earlier this week, in a text conversation with my oldest son, I mentioned that I was proud of him for having reached a decision, but ended by suggesting that "next time, make sure you're making decisions for yourself and not what others are telling you will work." Or something like that.

My kids are used to a mother who loves to write; as a result, many of our conversations are done in written form. (Wait a minute, that might be a great idea, "Letters from My Sons". Hill Harper, watch out,now!)  Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny

Anyway, his response had a slight overtone of polite-to-my-motherishness, but was still clear and concise.

"I'm not doing anything that I haven't decided to do. All the decisions I'm making are based on what I think is the best route..."

Well, okay then.

Before I got in my feelings -- or maybe a little bit after -- the realization hit that he was comfortable about his wants and intentions even in the face of my whining and fussing. We could have done a little more texting and word-wrangling, but I got his message. His choices, His decision.

Two friends became first-time parents this week, causing me to reminisce about the different ages and stages of my own crew. I found myself wondering, what was the most important thing I taught them, and what would have been important for them to know but I just blew it?

Parenting is about selecting the right neighborhood and the right school. Parenting is about having to communicate with that other parent who can get on your last nerve in 3.2 seconds but since you'll always share a child you mature enough to suck it up and find the good in him (or her). Parenting is about provision, food on the table, daycare payments that lead to camp fees that lead to tuition payments. Most parents pride themselves on covering the bases, on making sure that the “things” are taken care of, the homework is done, the tests are taken, and a little bit of scripture and the Lord's Prayer is memorized somewhere in the mix.

We have to be careful, though, that climbing our parenting ladder we don't skip over those less tangible things that children should see. The ability to love and respect others. The distinction between right and wrong. The relationship between reaping and sowing. The awareness of yourself that leads to self-confidence and self-acceptance. That self-actualization thing that everybody talks about in Psychology 101 but you're never sure if you have it or not. I don't know for sure how you know either, but I think you're on your way when you don't care if you have it. You just like yourself. You just know that with God, all things are possible. You know that you know that you know.

But children have to be given the freedom to reach that awareness. Children have to be allowed to make mistakes. Children have to know that wobbling is a part of standing tall, and when you fall down you get back up. As they get older, our children need to know that they can ask for feedback and not get instructions. They can share their thoughts and we can just listen, and not attempt to fix.

I want my friends’ new little babies to be given more time to play, more time to imagine, more time to know that they are wonderful just as they are.

And my guys? I was a little slow to get the big picture and a little controlling – as Iyanla says, call a thing a thing – but now I love to see them owning their space. A little wobble here and there. Some slippage but getting back up.

I adore watching them as they realize the power of spirit. Finding that power within. Seeing that which is not as if it were. Touching the wonder of the world. Calling that dream and claiming their possibilities. Babies are adorable, but I’m loving being able to watch the possibilities of young manhood.


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