Sunday, June 1, 2008

Moving outside my comfort zone...

As my kids get older, I am continually challenged to move outside of my comfort zone both as a parent and as a person. I suppose it starts the first time one is out of your site. Maybe you decide your three year old can play with her blocks unattended in the livingroom while you cook in the kitchen. Maybe your four year old can play alone in the backyard.

The trust goes further as the years progress. Your seven year old wants to ride her bike alone around the block or to spend the night at a friend's house or to browse in the children's section of the library while you are perusing the adult fiction section in another part of the building. There comes a time when you need to let your child do something that makes you nervous, otherwise you will stifle them and make them feel powerless. I firmly believe that feeling powerless is the root of much of human negativity, rebelliousness, unhappiness, and even violence. I do not want my children to feel powerless, ever.

So I trust them. I might express concerns, but I listen to their counterarguments, and we continue to discuss until we come to a conclusion that we can both agree on. It isn't always easy, and it often involves stepping outside of my comfort zone. I am the one with years of hangups and insecurities ingrained into every part of me. I am the one who is most likely being irrational. Sometimes my children choose to honor my insecurities even when they are irrational, but I do not thrust my distrust upon them. I work to listen to "who they are", and allow them to be how they need to be.

It isn't only in the parenting arena that I am stretched. As my kids get older, moving into their teens, they have more needs that are best met outside the immediate family. Maybe not "best met", but perhaps just that is the most reasonable option. If my daughter wants experience with farm animals, and we are not set up to acquire any, it is quicker and easier for her to get this experience with another family. If my son wants to learn auto mechanics, the same situation applies. I am not naturally a social person, but to best meet my children's needs, I am pushed outside of my comfort zone seeking opportunities for them to branch out into the world beyond our family and fly.

Through all of this I grow. It is one of the best side effects of both parenting and unschooling. Growing with your children. Learning new things about yourself. Becoming more than you ever thought you could be.

No comments: