I was reflecting yesterday on something I feel REALLY STRONGLY about, which I want to share with you today.
Read or listen to the audio version.
Though this mom is also a very loving, attached and attuned parent, she is a lot more directive and protective with her daughter than I've been with my three.
At some point in our conversation, whilst praising my parenting, work and the results I've had with my daughters, she said something that inspired this article.
She said that she didn't allow her daughter to be as free as I allow mine, because she wasn't willing to experience the potential consequences of that.
Her statement really stayed with me.
I found myself pondering it a lot afterwards.
And felt compelled to express my perspective.
What I feel very strongly about and could have replied to her this wonderful mom is:
"I'm not willing to experience the consequences of NOT trusting my daughters. Of making their decisions for them. Of having them rely on me to guide their decisions and monitor what they do."
Giving them freedom to make their own decisions is what's allowed them to remain connected to their inner guidance, instead of them shifting their focus outward, to what others tell them.
The only person who will always be with them, whom they can always count on is themselves.
Therefore, I've seen it as my job as a parent to nurture and strengthen THAT relationship above any other.
Trusting my daughters to make their own decisions while they still lived with me allowed them to develop their experience while I still had influence on them, and could still give them my opinion and feedback.
By the time they move away from me at 18 (Cassandra has been in Florida for 3 years and Audrey is heading to New York City in the fall) they have been making all their decisions by themselves for a long time, therefore are very well equipped to make them.
I've made a point of telling my daughters that the only person they can fully trust is themselves.
Above even myself and their dad.
That there are times (this mostly happened when they were little) when as parents we have to make decisions for them or that impact them which don't feel right to them. And that we're not necessarily making the best decision.
That we are fallible.
That it doesn't mean that because we're the ones making the decision we're right and they're wrong.
I wanted to make sure not to skew their perception of what felt true and right to them, by telling them they were wrong.
I just presented my perspective and opinion, taking responsibility for it and not making it 'the truth.'
As Byron Katie says, no one can ever know what's right for another person's path.
And no one else can ever fully know what's true for them.
Why do I believe that the only person my daughters can fully trust is themselves?
Because no one else ever has as much information about them and their specific situation as they do.
No one else has access to their instincts and their inner guidance, which are the most reliable resources we have (when they're not covered up with crap from all our conditioning.)
Our inner guidance is our connection to our drive towards wholeness, towards what we know is right and good, when we're not in some form of protective mode.
It's our connection to presence, spirit, our higher self, God, or however we experience the source of life.
It's our connection to massive amounts of information, of which we can only intellectually access a small fraction.
I've encouraged my daughters to trust their own opinions and guidance in terms of who to trust, whose advice to listen to, which expert or more experienced person to turn to when they need help or additional information.
I've encouraged them to be discerning when reading or listening to others and to never blindly trust what someone says.
There's a whole people who was trained to blindly follow what the authority said. And look at the massacre that ensued!
What if the Germans had grown up been encouraged to trust themselves...?
I CAN trust my daughters to make the right choices for themselves because they've always been trusted to do so, therefore are experienced in it.
And because they are honest - this is so key in making good decisions!
I've encouraged their self honesty, as well their honesty with me, by never punishing them, trying to manipulate them to fulfill my own agenda, or making them experience any negative consequence for telling the truth.
A self honest person tends to make good decisions because they're not hiding behind excuses and delusions.
One night, the girls met a young man in a comedy club and spent some time hanging out with him. He was nice, normal, smart, easy on the eyes and they thoroughly enjoyed his company.
He invited them to meet up again the following night, but Audrey's friend declined. She was afraid that something negative might happen from hanging out with a stranger.
But there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it would have been fine.
Because Audrey felt completely comfortable with him. She would have KNOWN if something was off about him.
And she would have made sure that they met in a setting that felt comfortable to her if she didn't.
I completely trust her ability to size up people and know who she can trust and who she can't.
And her level headedness in what she decides to engage in.
Having been raised completely differently, her friend needs to depend on guidelines to feel safe.
And made them miss out on an enjoyable experience because she was acting on something she's been told in the past instead of being free to evaluate the actual situation.
What a bummer for Audrey!
Now I'd like to switch to a completely different age group and share another story which relates to the topic of trusting children.
A story that I told an acquaintance many years ago, before children were even on her mind, and which she told me recently is what she still remembers me by.
Once, when she was 3, Gaby was standing on the kitchen counter, getting something in a cabinet.
When she was done, she asked me if she could jump off.
My reply to her was "I don't know, can you?"
How could I possibly know what her body is able to do? I'M NOT IN IT!
She turned the focus to herself and realized that she didn't feel comfortable doing so.
And asked me if I'd take her down.
If I had told her she couldn't, she would have learned to trust me instead of her own feeling of rightness.
She wouldn't have become as attuned to her body and her specific abilities.
Trusting my daughters to make their own decisions, from toddlerhood on, has made my life as a parent so much easier than those of most other parents I've seen.
And it's ensured that my daughters knew how to keep themselves safe, rarely got hurt and are now well equipped to handle life on their own.
I feel incredibly blessed to have had the foresight to do this with them and that we've all reaped, then and now, endless benefits from it.
DISCLAIMER: What I describe here is my ideal, and something that I'm certain I didn't apply all the time. I am far from being a perfect mom, and the results in my daughters, in spite of it, is a testimony to how effective this parenting approach is.
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6/9/2014 01:38:22 am
6/10/2014 07:58:15 am
6/14/2014 08:31:38 am
Thank you for this Eliane:
8/28/2014 07:26:44 am
Wow. You expressed that so well. Thank you for the reminder :)
8/28/2014 08:38:57 am
Thank you Basya!
1/8/2015 10:44:46 pm
Just lovely! I loved your piece. It seems very in line with CC values and also NVC. I love the distinction between your comfort and their abilities. I am trying to start practicing this balance with my LO, who is 11 weeks old. It's very tough though with him so tiny. I come from a background in early childhood ed where I did not find it difficult to respectfully allow kids to choose for themselves and tune into their own inner knowing in situations that are not truly dangerous. Although my instincts are still muddied by my anxiety and self doubt (my STUFF), I am wondering how much I can practice this stuff with my not-yet three month old.... Like sometimes he seems really tired to me (red eyes, etc) but is really resisting sleep. My experience with older kids tells me that he will go to sleep when he's good and ready, but there is also logic to the thinking that he is teeny tiny and may not really be able to soothe himself to sleep, even on me in the wrap (evidenced by the fact that he starts wriggling and struggling and sometimes crying). Anyway please offer your perspective on practicing this with infants. I know jean L had an example of crawling babies but I'm talking pre-crawling, still in the fourth trimester babies. Thanks so much.
4/28/2015 04:36:21 am
love the ideas here! i have a 5 year old who practices feeling fearful sometimes and i absolutely try to put a stop to that, because she tells herself she's afraid of things i know she can handle.
11/14/2016 07:35:13 am
I take a similar approach with my two kids. The only trouble I find is the push-back I get from other parents we are friends with and sometimes even from my husband who is not so trusting. But so far, my children (ages 9 and 6) have shown a remarkable ability to trust their own instincts. When things go off the rails (as family life sometimes does), I can usually trace it back to a change in how much my husband and I are outwardly showing our kids that we trust their decisions. It seems to shake their confidence. And I quickly adjust my attitude and get us back to a place of trust. Thanks for this article. I'm sharing it on my FB and Pinterest.
4/28/2017 11:29:11 am
I'm often asking for suggestions to encourage and build independence in children.
Every parent lives with a misconception that their job is to teach their kid how to act and perform in the globe. When their strategy fails, they use some manipulative tactic to get their kids on track. I don't think it is a healthy way of parenting. Because a kid necessitates his parent's guidance and leadership. Guidance does not mean to put the arguments of our kids down. It does not mean isolating them. It means trusting our children more and teaching them less. Consult a life mentor to attain all the successes as a parent.
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