“You’re not like some of my friends’ mums” said my youngest.
“In what way?”, I asked.
“Their mums sit next to them when they’re doing their homework, they help them do it and make sure it gets done. You let me do my own homework.”
“Which way do you prefer?” I asked.
This made me smile – why? Because she’s 9, she’s always been independent, even at a very young age and she doesn’t realise how difficult it is for me to trust her to do her homework. I know, at times, she’s rushed her tasks and doesn’t always complete them, but she’s learned from her mistakes with feedback from the teachers.
I find letting go quite hard, being a total control freak, perfectionist and wanting everything “just so” – I’m used to making decisions on the children’s behalf when they were younger – where they go to school, who their friends are, what they eat, when they go to bed etc. As they grow up, especially as my older daughter is now a teenager, I realise I have to let go more and that’s so difficult.
I know it’s important that the children find the right balance of independence within the safe confines of our family and home, but I feel so protective over them and the lack of control over them scares me.
If this resonates with you, here’s a few things that have helped me :-
Help them find their own solution – it’s easier to “do it” than to “let them try”. Their solution to the problem might not be the same as mine, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. They need to find a solution that works for them.
Creating agreed boundaries – start with something simple like bedtime, what choice could they have within the confines of what’s acceptable to you. Midnight on a school night might not be appropriate for you, but 8:30pm might not be acceptable to them. What other areas can you give them a bit of latitude to make choices?
Let them understand the consequences – constantly reminding them that their homework is due puts the onus on me to continue to remind them. It’s my fault if they miss a deadline. Letting them manage their own school work over time, helps them understand the consequences of not handing it in on time.
Keeping the communication going – checking to make sure they’re happy with their responsibilities, being open to talk about what they might be finding difficult, without actually stepping in and taking over. Building that trust so they know they can “fail in safety”.
BUT the biggest action that helped me – was to understand my own inner intentions. What was I afraid of? What did I think would be the consequences of them making the wrong decisions or not taking responsibility. Being aware of my fears, gaining that clarity, helped me to re-evaluate how I brought up the children.
How difficult do you find to let go of the control? Are you worried about the family while at work? Is something niggling at you?
Let’s explore your inner intentions and help you gain comfort in letting go.