Thursday, March 1, 2018

The best thing my mom did as a parent

When my sister was 18, my mom and I made the trek to her college campus on move-in day. As we dropped my sister's boxes in her dorm room, her roommate asked her, "Which way should we make up our beds?" Her roommate's mother looked up from labeling her daughter's shoes (yes, this happened) and explained the best furniture placement and the need for their beds to face the door. As her mom continued, my sister and I looked at one another dumbfounded. It marked the first time I remember witnessing a parent voice an opinion over a seemingly competent child's decision.

Don't get me wrong, my teenage self would characterize my mother as strict and totally unreasonable, but I can't recall a time she made a decision on my behalf. Crazy, right?

It spanned from small decisions like what to wear or how to cut my hair to more important ones like what classes to enroll in or how to choose my friends. It was really her lack of words that spoke volumes: You are capable of making this decision without my influence.

With each small decision, I acquired the confidence and independence needed to make the next. Those small decisions led to larger, life altering choices; which college to attend, my career path, my spouse. While she contributed from time to time, more often she watched from the sidelines.

I had the privilege and responsibility to own my successes and failures.

Often I am guilty of making small decisions for my children to keep our days running smoothly. But yesterday morning when my daughter came downstairs, upset, because I had neglected to set out her clothes for school, I told her, "you are capable of doing this on your own." Although I may have detected some frustration, I sent her on her way knowing her ability to make these small decisions will foster confidence in future life choices.

What was the best thing your parents did for you as a child? Isn't parenting equally tough as it is rewarding? But I keep coming back to this quote, "Treat a child as though he already is the person he's capable of becoming." So true, right?

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