My kids have lost their place in our family, in our group. They do not know their place, because we have elevated them above our place (Jeff and I).
Now that I am aware of this, one way that I can help keep them in their place is to always know my own place in the group. I am the adult, the big one. They are the small one. When they are able to pull me out of my center, then they are too powerful. Too big.
So. By maintaining my own center, no matter what their choices (and the natural consequences), I protect them and enable them to be small. To make mistakes. To know that they are safe in making mistakes, because their choices and the consequences only affect them. They do not affect me.
I just realized this this morning. My younger son has accumulated a lot of homework, which is all due on Monday. Today is Sunday. I am feeling fear rise in my belly, as I count ahead the hours and calculate the work. All while noticing that he doesn't seem to be engaged in this. The outcome of this homework situation matters more to me than it does to him.
As soon as I realize this, I know what I need to do.
So, I start employing the constructive use of motivation with him - calmly discussing negative consequences to not finishing his homework. I've been so loathe to employ negative consequences, stressfully micromanage him instead. This is out of order.
It is unfair to him that I am attached to whether or not he makes a "mistake."
With the realization that these are his choices, and his consequences, I am able to relax into my proper place - that of older, wiser elder that tenderly watches him living his life. Sharing with him the consequences of his actions and choices from the sidelines, not as a power play. Whether or not he does it, my peace of mind is not on the table. Neutral...not losing my mind and stomach over his choices. It immediately puts me into my place, and him into his. He is responsible for his choices, not me. And I can't protect him from the consequences of his choices. That is his job, and he is fully capable of doing so.
The result is an immediate feeling of empowerment for myself, and of tenderness toward him. I lose sight of who he is when I am trying to control him. But now we are not on opposite sides of anything, we are floating down the river together. I watch his choices with curiosity, not control, because anything he chooses to do or not do will be his own choice as he navigates his own life. His own life. The words have an off-gassing effect on my nervous system, a release.
This idea that he can't pull me out of my center is important. He needs to know that he can do anything he pleases and that my peace and balance are not at risk. He needs to know this so he can take risks and explore boundaries accordingly. The safety to do so.
He does not have to do or not do anything to gain my favor - that is never up for grabs. There is nothing he can or can't do to change how I feel about him. He doesn't need to change a thing about himself to please me or make me feel comfortable.
I am the adult again, out of his sandbox, and back in my own - where I belong.
And we are all the better for it.
Norma Van Horn