I’ve been so frustrated with it I just want to scream. Felt so sad about it I can hardly imagine it will ever end. Felt so angry that this problem keeps cropping up in various forms and at unexpected times—when will it ever just go away and leave us all alone?
Some of this upset comes because I think I might have a solution. I don’t know for sure, but I at least have some ideas about what might be helpful, what might lessen the sting, what might help get us moving in the right direction. But knowing these things hasn’t helped so far, because I’m not in the fix-it position. My child is.
My child is at the wheel and I’m relegated to backseat driver. I can give directions, I can coach, I can cheerlead. I can tell stories from my own experience and I can cajole and I can reason and I can challenge. But no matter how much I do, the car only goes where my chid steers it. Which means I am not in control.
Ever been there?
There are times when our children struggle and in all our wisdom, we can’t take that struggle away. Maybe they don’t recognize there’s a problem. Maybe they lack the confidence to make a change. Maybe they actively rebel against our course of action. Whatever the reason, to watch your child go through something hard that you don’t think they need to even go through—you know how to fix this!—can lead us down all sorts of roads to bitterness.
Our own battle as parents it not to succumb to the pull of despair. My own battle at times has been to make sure I don’t make my child the enemy, don’t make my child the problem.
My child is never the enemy.
My child is never a problem.
When my kids resist my influence, I have to believe there is something worth exploring there. When my kids nod and say “Yes, mommy” and then turn and go a different way, I have to believe there is something still undiscovered, something untapped that I can use to inspire me to be a better parent. When my kids openly deny that what I see is what they see, I need to be humble enough to believe that my way is not the best way simply because I am the grown up.
There are real enemies in this world. There are real problems.
They are never my children, and each time that old problem crops up I will remind myself that my children and I are allies and we will find solutions together. If it works for me but not for them, it’s not a solution. If it makes sense to me but leaves them feeling confused, unsure, or less than, it’s not a solution. Today may unveil an old problem, but this is a new day and I will choose to believe that new solutions will come. We will walk to victory together.