What should I do?!?! A Parenting Challenge

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I belong to a FB group and someone recently posted this question below. I’m recycling the conversation here because my response was well recieved by many people. I thought I would share it here, with you.

Her Question: I’m having such a hard with my 11 year-old daughter. She and I but heads horribly. She doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut and then I flip out. I know I handle things horribly; I flip out cursing, screaming, and freaking out. I have tried to listen to Abraham. I have to change my thoughts. I am abusive when it comes to her and I need to change it. Any suggestions?

My Answer: Perhaps this might help? Yesterday, my 11 year-old daughter, the one I mentioned above (in another post), woke up and went right to a yucky feeling thought. I could tell because she immediately started grumping, “Mommmmmm, I don’t want to …… (school) (this) (that) (the other)!” I could feel at the root of it was a sense that she felt disempowered. She felt there was nothing she could do to “solve” the problem and that made her fearful, worried, and grumpy. I hate when I feel that way about something that is going on with me … so I could feel empathy for her by thinking this way. The school is taking PARCC tests this week, for the second time in a 6 weeks period. This is more than unnecessary and really about school funding and not about learning.

She did not want to go to school; I couldn’t blame her.

Those tests are annoying especially when you have to take them 6 weeks apart. So, I did what I could in that moment, which was I gave her her power back.

“Estella, you decide. You can take the day off, if you need to. We’ve already talked to the teacher and the school will require you to retake the test but today, you need to decide what is best for you.”

She fused and fumed and than said, “Okay, I’ve decided.” but she really hadn’t because she was still feeling bad.

‘What about tomorrow when I have to retake the test??!!” she said feeling very upset.

“What feels better to YOU,” I asked “To worry about tomorrow and what the teacher is going to think of you or to make a choice, by and for your own well being, right now that puts you back into alignment with feeling good?”

She said feeling good felt better.

Now … as a parent there’s a part of me shouting, “NO, you can’t do that. Kids MUST go to school even when they don’t want to. What if she grows up and just decides not to go to work or lay on the couch all day??”

But, then I soothed myself by saying, “When you love what you do, you’re inspired, active and living a good life. This is what I’m attempting to guide my girls toward and just because I allow her, at age 11, to make her own decisions does not mean she’ll be a couch potato when she grows up. Wait … in fact … allowing her to make her own decisions NOW is exactly what will lead to a highly dedicated, passionate, giving, loving, “productive” being as an adult.”

I felt much better thinking those thoughts. It feels like we have a rampant belief in American society that just because these little beings are smaller physically we can’t allow them to trust their inner guidance.

This is just not true.

We can … and if that was me who was allowed to trust my inner guidance at age 11, if I had been given the opportunity to feel my own inner power to create a life that felt good to me, I might not be second guessing HER power to do the same right now. I might be better able to see what is really happening which is that I need to just let her feel a sense of control, which is ultimate freedom.

So … this morning she woke up a different girl. “Mommy … I want to thank you for letting me make that choice yesterday. I feel really good today and so good, in fact, that I don’t care if I have to retake the test. I’m ready to go to school!!”

To me … this means that in the moment I made a new, different parenting choice, that it was the right choice for me and for Estella. We’re just doing the best we can, each and every day, and it’s enough just as it is.

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