One of the most difficult challenges of parenting is the conflict that occurs when our children don’t do what we want them to do. As parents, but I think mothers especially, we have certain expectations of both ourselves and our children. We often times will carry the burden of raising our children to be a certain way and embody certain characteristics or qualities, such as being responsible, respectful, kind, and courteous.
Whether it’s teaching our children manners, following directions, or basic hygiene like brushing teeth, our illusion of control and efforts to “teach” often end up interfering more with our children’s ability to learn. We encourage, explain, lecture, and remind ad nauseum but it seems to do no good; they still aren’t behaving the way we would like them to.
Why is this? The hard pill to swallow, and I often upset other parents when I say this, is that we don’t actually have as much control over our children as we think we do. The reality is, our children are their own little beings, with their unique personalities, and they are going to make the choices they make of their own volition. We cannot control who our children become; at best, we can hope to influence them.
Getting clear with ourselves about how much and what we actually have control over can alleviate a lot of angst and frustration that comes with parenting. So, what do we have control over? We have control over our own attitudes and actions. We have control over our own boundaries, deciding what we are okay with and what we are not, and we have control over upholding the consequences that come when these boundaries are not respected. We get to assert these boundaries, but whether or not our children abide by them is up to them.