Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An analogy

Today was somewhat frustrating for many reasons.  As I was thinking about those reasons and what was going on with my kids, I had an epiphany.  Of course, this was several hours ago and I didn't write it down so I will try to remember it as best I can.

Before, I was always telling the kids where they needed to go and all the specifics about how to get there - what to take, how to take it, etc.  I didn't really think through what they would do once they arrived, but I was going to make sure they got there.  Even if they weren't really sure how they got there.  The end goal was high school graduation and entrance to college.  After that, the rest was up to them. 

Last spring, I started rethinking this approach and decided to step back and try to figure out first where they wanted to go.  Instead of saying, "You need to take math so you can go to college", I ask, "What do you think you'll want to do?  Do you want to go to college?"  Tori has realized that she wants to learn math better and she is figuring out how to do that and asking for my help.  Instead of dragging her down the math road, with my arms and shoulders aching and my back sore, I am walking along beside her, sometimes slowing down and sometimes running a little.  But she's setting the pace. 

Today, I was frustrated because Brendan's pace is not matching my own.  I have to learn to let go of that control.  He has decided that yes, he wants to go to college and he is taking an active role in getting there.  He's new at being in control so sometimes he doesn't make the best decisions.  But if I just nag or scold all the time, he'll still rely on me to push and drag him there.  It will be so much better for both of us if I let him decide where he wants to go and then be ready to help him get there. I want him to arrive at his destination with a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  I don't want him to get there and say, "now what?"  He is my rule-following, obedient, responsible first-born.  And I really changed the rules this year.  It's going to take awhile to figure this out.  We'll get there.

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