Making a deliberate decision to stay silent.
“Mom, you don’t have to tell me. I know!” I click the red button on the phone and let out a huge huff. This was how I ended a conversation with my mother, for even in my forties, I will always be her little girl. I sat in the car, overcome by annoyance, paralysed by aggravation. Like a petulant child, I was wounded by her advice. Her well-intended counsel made me feel incompetent, inexperienced and undependable. It definitely was not her objective to instigate this unconstructive reaction. I breathed in deeply and slowly let the air seep from my lungs, as I let the child within me, reconcile.
This must be how our children feel when I insist, remind or worse still, badger. Except “being little” they are not permitted to express such exasperation or answer back. As parents, we cannot possibly tolerate such insolence!
As our brood matures, however, I have come to choose my battles. With each passing day, I choose to battle less and relate more. I am mindful of my intonation and for reminders to originate from sincerest of intentions rather than any insistence driven by ego and pride. That they should do as they are told without question or debate often means some demands fall on deaf ears and only intensifies parental frustration. I have long put aside any impulses that arise from judgment by others. Parenting is hard enough as it is.
We desire for our children to be confident and capable of independent thought. Therefore I have realised, insistence, without thoughtfulness, can be disempowering and may work to sabotage our aspiration. Constant suggestion without encouragement towards self-reliance can hamper individuality and that “sense of self” that we so hope they grow up to possess.
When I am tempted to utter that one last reminder or offer an alternative suggestion, I stop and ask “What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t say it?”