A mom recently asked me, "Why do we as parents often try to control our kids? " I love this question, because it gives me an opportunity to also discuss FREEDOM, and INFLUENCE.
I will start with FREEDOM. I love freedom. I live for it. I come from a background of very strong personalities. I truly treasure each person. And yet, at a young age I grew in my distaste for manipulation, disrespect, disregard, judgement, or any attempt to CONTROL my thoughts, feelings or behavior.
In all my relationships I feel the same way; You are you. I am me. I care deeply about you. I want to hear what you have to say. I want to learn, and consider your thoughts. I might even choose to change my mind, or behavior -- or not. I am convinced that I am not responsible for anyone's security, anger, or doing things that others think I “should” be, say or do.
Wouldn't you love to be my boss? This must be why I am an entrepreneur! Relationships I am attracted to are characterized by communication, respect and freedom.
By no means have I been a perfect parent. No one is. This topic of control just happens to be an area that I was very intentional about. So, as I began to parent, my desire was to have healthy (not perfect) relationships with our children, Josh and Caroline. Based on my background, and personality, the only thing I wanted to control was my role in the relationship. I never wanted to manipulate, disrespect, disregard, judge, or control them.
Just like a mom who might be tempted to try and control, I wanted safety and good things for my kids too. I also wanted clean rooms, homework done, and less rolling of the eyes. But the way I went about parenting those two humans took more risk and time than trying to govern them. I wanted children who made wise and safe choices from the inside out. I wanted to build intimacy and influence -- not control.
Control is external. Control is about me. Control is about what it looks like to others. Control is disregarding the other person. We often parent out of our brokenness. My suspicion is that control stems from some sort of fear or insecurity. Control is not love, and it leads to rebellion, or depression.
I definitely didn't want to be our children’s world, or their ultimate guru. I knew better than that. You see, I used to be an atheist. When they were little, I was a brand new believer. I really wanted Josh and Caroline to know God, and be able to wrestle through the Scriptures for themselves. But, I didn't have control over them knowing, or depending on God.
So, most profoundly, I INTRODUCED them to God, and the cool things I was learning from the Bible. I introduced them to Him like you would introduce two people you really cared about. I could do that. I shared Scripture like it was a treasure chest. I fumbled my way through this by being really authentic about what I was learning, and questioning about GOD. I didn't pretend to be more knowledgeable, or well behaved, than I really was. I often apologized when I lost my temper, and we would spontaneously pray together when things got hard.
I regularly asked them what they thought about God topics. Ultimately, I wanted to create an atmosphere that encouraged dependency on the Lord's voice, not a bunch of religious rules the church or we as parents laid before them.
Influence makes me happy! Influence is profoundly intuitive. Influence is deep and is born out of genuine respect for another human being. Ironically accepting that influence is out of your control is the first step in truly having it. Influence involves listening, humility, vulnerability, modeling and hopefully a sense of humor. I found a way to merge the responsibility for leading my children, and yet I was able offer my friendship to them as human beings.
I know being a friend to your children is a controversial topic. But since I am free, I did it my way. I magically managed to dance between being an imperfect mom with boundaries, loving discipline, and genuine friendship. Influence was born, and I am in the most precious relationships currently now with my 21 and 23 year olds.
Josh and Caroline influence me also. They now laugh with me, ask me for advice, pray for me, give me council, and respect me. We have no control over each other; we have a relationship.
Human beings are all wired differently. Free will is free. That means you, me, and our offspring are free to make wise or painful choices, and free to experience the consequences of those choices. Trust me, I know if we had parented a third, fourth or fifth child the same way, they could have gone bonkers. Because ultimately, my child's behavior is out of my control. I am so glad that God used my distaste for control to inspire INFLUENCE.
To see more from Tracy and DOCK 2, visit her channel on TheBlaze.