I played the concerned parent role for many years. That is until I learned to tune into my emotions and my mantra became “nothing is more important than that I feel good” (thank you, Abraham). I actively committed to change and to doing my best to feel good, the majority of the time. I do not claim to be perfect and by no means do I claim to know everything about parenting. But I have discovered a positive, empowered parenting style that works well for me and seems to be working for my children.
Being a parent is very challenging. We worry about whether we are raising our children appropriately. Are they good people? Are they making good choices? How can I stop them from being hurt or making mistakes? So many questions, sometimes so few answers.
It was natural for me to be a concerned parent; after all it was ingrained in me through my environment. I want to be clear, I am not holding a grudge, nor do I wish I could have changed anything about my life. My family was loving, close and protective, with all my needs provided. With that said, I was raised in an environment where my parents were constantly worried about my well-being, rightfully so, after all, they were too. If parents didn’t show concern for their children, then they simply weren’t good parents!
During high school, I remember my Mom losing many nights’ sleep, awaiting my arrival home. I never really understood the concept of a curfew, to me, it was far too restraining. It made more sense to simply come home when I was done having fun, when I was ready. Nevertheless, this was not how my Mom felt. She would not allow herself to fall asleep; instead, she would lie in bed with the TV on, thinking of the 101 ways that I could die that night.
Looking back on those experiences, with today’s wisdom, I now see how strongly my inner-wisdom, soul, spirit (whatever you choose to call it), was pushing me, while confined to rules, to do the things that brought me joy. It’s no wonder I was considered rebellious. I simply didn’t take no for an answer, I wanted to know why. Why do you want to suppress me? Why do you want to keep me from doing the things I love? Why do you want me to feel bad?
As life would have it, I became a mother early in life. I wondered when the Mother’s Curse was going to kick-in. You know, the curse that your mother places on you to have a child just like you! Staying true to course, when my eldest daughter, Brandilyn, entered middle school, I updated my overly concerned parent program.
She had a girlfriend that I was certain would be pregnant by the age of 16 (if she made it that long!), her parents drank way too much, and I was concerned for Brandilyn’s safety when she was with them. There was one Saturday that she had spent with them, calling in the evening to get permission to sleepover. I argued she didn’t have her necessities and she said she could pick them up and asked me to pack them for her. I didn’t hear her come into the house and get her backpack.
For about three hours, I was convinced she was horribly hurt (before cell phones were at pre-teens’ disposal). I felt intense worry, sobbing tears as I experienced her funeral, and a knotted stomach before I discovered the backpack gone from the front door. She was completely safe and having fun with her friend.
It’s incredible the amount of physical and emotional pain we can suffer simply from making up worse case scenarios in our imagination. From something that isn’t even “real.” It’s now easy for me to see the direct correlation from my thoughts (emotions) to my well being, it wasn’t at that time.
Not long after, the Internet was introduced. I researched all the information available for me, as a good parent, that I needed to know for my children’s safety. I even purchased a computer program that recorded the keystrokes of our family PC. This would allow me to read any email or chat room discussion that Brandilyn typed. (You must understand, this isn’t easy for me to admit as this is the first time that Brandilyn is finding out that I violated her privacy. Yet, if you or someone can learn from my paranoia, then it is worth it.)
Shortly after the program was installed, I generated a report and read an email she had typed to one of her friends. She shared information with her friend that made my heart sink into the pit of my stomach. I was in a dilemma, do I confront her with what she had done or let it go? I went back and forth for a few days and realized, she didn’t do anything that I had not also done at her age. I discovered I wanted her to be free to explore and experiment in life, without the fear of big brother watching her. Knowing she is entitled to her privacy and I trust her to make good decisions, and even if she doesn’t, trust that she will learn and grow from that experience. I removed the program immediately and no longer felt the need to spy on my children.
It was Tabitha, my youngest, that taught me that everyone has his or her own guidance that is far more powerful than any parental guidance or stranger danger talk. When she was 5 years old, we had some repair/service people in our home after a lightning strike. This particular day, it was the high-speed Internet being repaired. The first repairman was having difficulty and called in assistance. The second man arrived, and began interacting with Tabitha, wanting to be playful and engage her. She cowered behind me, something I was not seeing my generally gregarious daughter do. She whispered, “Mommy, he’s mean”, as she hunched more behind me. I actually tried to reassure her and prove to her that he was not mean!
Here, she was showing me, that the guidance within her was telling her to stay away from him and I was trying to encourage her toward him! Simply because I wasn’t fully aware in that moment, since I was feeling embarrassed by her lack of social graces! REALLY! Wow, thankful to see it so clearly afterwards. When I realized what she was teaching me, that is when I stopped instilling fear into my children and instead, entrusted them to follow their own guidance. It is incredibly freeing when you are no longer worried about harm coming to your children.
Today, technology and social networking allows parents to have all new capabilities of monitoring their children. You are not always going to like what you discover. It’s up to you how you use that information. I suggest the first step would be to not take it personally. Often, we feel personally attacked or judge ourselves by how well our children behave or what they do or do not accomplish. Be free from the association of others. Secondly, instead of focusing on what they did “wrong”, turn your focus and awareness on what they do “right”. In an attraction-based universe, we experience what we predominantly focus on. Here’s a big news flash, your children are showing you exactly what you expect!
Next, keep your focus primarily on subjects that feel good to you. When you think about something that is not in alignment with your true self, you will feel it. It may be an upset stomach, perhaps a headache, even something as simple as the feeling of anger or disappointment. Those “symptoms” are simply information. Once you have the information, then you can use it to help you to remember something positive or focus on what feels better now. Little by little, the shift begins from moving from a reactive parent to a stable, balanced parent.
I am a different parent now than I was 22 years ago when I first became one. I sleep soundly in my comfortable bed (even when my 17 year old son has yet to return home), knowing that my children are eternally protected. I am grateful to be free from the concerned parent program. I no longer interact with my children from a place of fear. I have found being an empowered parent is far more beneficial and influential for both parent and child.