04 Oct The Secret to Empowering Our Children
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why couples break up, and as such I’ve had to look into why two people even get together in the first place. As I analyze my own life, my relationships have not always been ones where I supported someone else. My first love was pretty much controlled fully by me and, looking back, I now see how damaging I was to his spirit. I was young, spoiled, insecure and, in turn, demanding and manipulative. For the longest time I felt a lot of guilt for having treated another person like that; however, that experience taught me the path of learning my life lessons and evolving to become a more mindful person.
My own childhood experiences is the reason why I am able to reconcile with the sometimes seemingly selfish or self-centered behavior of our children or young ones in society. However, does this understanding carry over to our peers as adults? Is it acceptable for older people to be manipulative or belligerent? The answer is NO, and I will explain what the difference is and what the consequences of controlling another human being are.
First of all, I need to implore that we should NEVER control another person. Control is imposing your thoughts, beliefs and way on another and this leads to disempowerment. True inner power is only attained through one’s own free will to create choices, make decisions and experience the outcomes. Control of another person cuts his or her ability to think – you are essentially giving that person the answers. This in turn hurts their ability to learn to make the right choices on their own.
This is especially important when we are rearing our own children. We are living in a society where the majority of parents are either both working full time or are in single parent homes. Also, this generation of parents tends to be more educated than the last generation with women, in particular, being more empowered and educated. So if we are more educated, shouldn’t we be less controlling than our parents were with us? The answer is NO, and the new wave of parents is now parenting through fear.
Unfortunately, we are living in a world of information overload, where we simply know TOO MUCH. We fear that every bad thing we hear in the media can potentially happen to our children and, as such, we become paranoid. We in turn keep that umbilical cord attached and impose our fears on them. Even worse, some people fear that their children will repeat history and make the same mistakes they did when they were young. Many worry that their children will not achieve everything “we” think they “should” achieve. All of this leads to young people who lack the coping skills required to get through this new world of constant change, high demands and stress.
Yes, let’s get into the modern day program, gang! … the new generation is all about negotiation. Young people these days have the innate ability to think outside of the box and, as such, if we keep them encased in that box, we will stunt their survival instincts. People can learn by listening, reading or action, but it’s ONLY action that instills that sense of empowerment within our mind and our subconscious. Our subconscious is what drives our behaviors and abilities to make the right decisions when needed. Constantly “instructing” our children what and when to eat, when to sleep, what to wear, how to ??? … and, even worse, EXPECTING them to listen without question is instilling insecurities that will live within them for the rest of their lives.
It is critical that we don’t “instruct”, rather, that we discuss all options and what cause/effect exists for each matter at hand. For example, I want my son to understand that lying is never the solution … instead of simply saying lying is bad (which he knows already), I would play out scenarios of what he would feel like if he were caught. The main consequence of being caught lying is breaking a trust with someone that may never be recovered. Is that worth it? I tend not to instruct him, but I just want to ensure that he is MINDFUL of the consequence(s) of whatever decision he makes when he is faced with a choice to lie or not. He can choose to lie or not on his own, but what is important is that he makes those decisions with his eyes wide open.
Now another challenge for parents today is knowing when you need to control or when you should be supportive. This is a particularly difficult part of parenting because it all starts with understanding your child at the deepest level – WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. We need to remember that they have their own path of learning and of course, as parents, it’s an automatic reflex to make life easier for them. But, taking away their ability to learn on their own is actually disempowering them. Most of us did not live with “helicopter” parents and we had all the freedom to make as many mistakes as we needed to, which is a necessary step to being empowered.
If you are an “empowered” parent, then you need to respect the path of your child to do just that. However, instead of blindly leaving them on their own to figure things out, we must create that line of communication that is based on trust, integrity and compassion. This way, we can be there only to support their choices and GUIDE them towards the optimal decisions that they feel are right for them. Ultimately, it’s all about giving them the tools and skills to be able to evaluate all possible causes and effects for themselves and their own life.