20 March 2017

Lessons From Home: You Can't Teach It All

It's so easy as a parent to get caught up in all the things you "need" to teach your child to prepare them for adult life. I have caught myself in the past feeling like we need to be teaching in our home every good thing I see other parents doing. What a folly and too much pressure. I learned to focus on doing what my family needs, not what every other family I know is doing cumulatively. That's not even possible to do every good thing every other family does, let alone worth stressing over. Now I pray and ask what we need to do and try to listen to inspiration as it comes.

Recently I have found myself feeling pressured about all the things we need to teach our kiddo to prepare her to go out in the world as an adult. The time is short, we've only got 7 1/2 years before she's off to college. Panic.

She needs to know how to budget time and money, how to work and earn money, how to manage adult relationships, how to live through a breakup and how to breakup with someone. She needs to learn how to fix things, how to make things, how to solve all kinds of problems from a broken down car to any variety of possible crises.

She needs to know how to keep house, fold sheets, make meals, buy groceries, eat healthily, get enough sleep and take care of her body, keep strong mentally and emotionally, clean house and learn to live with less so she can have less stress and work taking care of things. She needs to know how to get a passport, how to plan a trip....oh the list goes on and on and on.

Seriously between school, extra-curriculars, church, friends and much needed down time there aren't enough hours to teach her all of that to the level I think is needed between now and when she graduates from high school. More parenting stress. I don't want to send our Kiddo out into the world like some girls I've heard of who never learned to make a meal or had never turned on a dishwasher before, etc. Agh!

Then I thought back on my own youth and realized how much I learned once I left for college. There are a lot of people to learn from there. I also learned a lot during my time living in Denmark when I was 21-22. There are lots of opportunities to learn the skills of adult life from other people whether that be during high school, college or young adulthood. It's natural and good because other people may be able to reach her in new and more interesting or inspiring ways that we could.

"Finding myself" as a young adult was very often a reflection of experiences I had with people who grew up in different types of homes or environments that I did. It was inspiring and refreshing and often exciting to see how other people did things differently than we did in our home and it gave me a broader perspective to decide who I wanted to be and how I wanted to do things. It was all that exposure to things that were different than I was used to that taught me there were many ways to do things and many reasons to do them outside of what I experienced in the place and way I grew up. That was so educational and satisfying.

As I looked back on my own experience and made this realization, it was a huge moment for me to take a deep breath and not feel so pressured that we needed to teach her everything she needs to know about life before she graduates high school. There are still many learning opportunities between parents and children after that time too. Those do not stop at age 18. Realizing this helped me to step back and chill out.

So here's another unnecessary stress I'm going to let go of. I'm trusting in good people she will meet all along her path, I'm trusting myself to chill out and be a little more natural about this evolutionary process called raising kids, and I'm trusting her that she will keep making good decisions. I hope she will take opportunities to learn and grow through healthy relationships with others and will take opportunities to see the world through her own eyes, others' eyes and still hopefully sometimes my eyes too.

I'm also going to trust that no matter where she goes, she will take her relationship with God with her and he will watch over her. I don't need to do it all. I don't need to do it perfectly. I just need to do my best. I can keep trying to do that, without feeling overwhelmed or fearful. We can do our best and believe that good will come from it. What a relief....

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