As I was heading to a parenting talk, at a local preschool, my daughter nonchalantly asked me what I was going to talk about. I told her parenting. She asked, “what about parenting?” “Well”, I said “I share with the parents what I’ve learned from parenting you.” I told her “I’ve learned that you require a lot of freedom and when I try to control you, to get you to do what I want, things always go bad.” She smiled, in the back seat, and said, “Mom, you tell those parents if you control your children they won’t turn out perfect but if you give them freedom they will.” Well, as my jaw dropped I found myself penetrating the depth of this statement.
It has not been easy living with a child who DEMANDS freedom. Of course, the reflection is strong because I have always danced to a different drum. I left Mississippi at 20 moving to New York to be an actress. My dad thought I would be coming back, with my tail between my legs, within the year. He cut me off financially, thinking this would break me, and yet being the “freedom” child I am this catapulted me into a vow to always take care of myself. No man was going to tie me down! I laugh when I think about this now, but lo and behold I never married and I never went home. Hmmm! Now I see why!
So, when my daughter began to express her need for freedom it was challenging. I began to feel threatened and found myself wanting to control her, squashing her freedom. It was shocking. This was the last thing I thought would happen. And our battles began…It was a painful few years as I found my way back to the freedom I so deeply valued.
My daughter, showed me the doorway back home. She has always been so clean and clear about her desire to be free and respected. Each time, my fear rose and I tried to control her behavior, she quickly reminded me to return. For the pain I witnessed, on her face, awakened me to the pain I held deep inside. I had fought a lifetime, and now it was my chance to surrender and open to the greatest gift of all….freedom.
Practice: When your child says “No” take a deep breath, pause and ask yourself are you needing to control in that moment? Be honest and if so, relax and move into a more connected place inside, then move back toward your child choosing the relationship over any move of control.