Loving my children with an iron fist

13 August 2017

We return to whence we came, to the same source and we cannot forget our connection and reliance on one another as part of this puzzling, beautiful and challenging planet.

I last mentioned as part of my journey of self-discovery, my reluctance to talk about my role as a parent. This dubious joy has taken me to the heights of pleasure and pride to the recesses of my deepest fears. What is it about our children that brings out the most extreme reactions and emotions? Why is it that in the relationship with our children, we generally tend to want better than what we want for ourselves? Most of us cannot honestly say that we wish that for any other human being within our sphere. We can perhaps want others to be happy and may even want them to have what we have (if we are generous of heart), but rarely do we want other people to have more than we have. Yet with our children, there is no limit to the good wishes we have for them. In fact, we make some of our biggest sacrifices to ensure that they have the best of what we can give them in education, sports, recreation and everything else. We want them to excel at everything. Is it because we see them as an extension of ourselves? Do we see them as the chance to succeed where we failed? Newsflash, they are not you. They may share 50% of your DNA and oh yes, the other 50% comes from the spouse or partner that you often find so much fault with. Does that mean that they are half an extension of you? Or can it be that they are no extension at all. They are complete souls that have come through you and share of your DNA but are not a part of you.

I learned this the hard way. I was so overwhelmed by the gigantic responsibility of being a mother that I monitored and controlled everything my children did since they were born. I believe in the importance of boundaries for small children, but I fear my boundaries may have more closely resembled fortresses. I wanted them to be perfect and not flawed like I was, I wanted them to be well adjusted and happy, successful, productive and the list goes on and on. I was affectionate and loving, but my command-control style as a mom often came across as bullying, sometime subtle and at other times overt. I recall endless lectures about them studying hard to make a good living and supporting their own families one day. Yet when my oldest son started questioning the system and the value of the current education system, I became exasperated because even though I agreed with him, I felt duty-bound to push him into the sausage machine, because I could see no viable alternative. I became frantic about his future and what he was going to do for a living and the more I panicked, the more pressure I placed on him. Although his aptitude tests showed a penchant for engineering he fought me when I urged him in that direction. My second son who gets straight A’s in math, performs mundanely in everything else, is utterly bored and disengaged at school. My daughter whose head is in the clouds and spends her free time drawing and daydreaming, is not at all like me, and although I was relieved at her lack of intensity and her calm subtlety, I was still worried that she had problems with spelling. I paid a small fortune for tests and assessments for all my children to ensure that I was not missing anything. They felt as if I was measuring their worth by their performances at school. Even when my kids did well at school or anything else, I didn’t announce to family and friends any of their achievements and even less did I announce their failings. I refused to let the family and friends place any pressure on my children or me. It never occurred to me that I was placing sufficient pressure on them for everybody.  I felt like their failings were my own and their successes in some way were attributable to me. I was, to my chagrin, worried about what people would say, and wanted to shield my children and myself from criticism or gossip or envy. But was I shielding them or oppressing them with my fears of failure?

At least to my credit I did not expect them to excel at sports even though I was a sports fanatic when I was at school. None of them showed any interest in sports. My oldest was on the A-team for water polo when he entered high school, but he despised water polo partly because he suffered with asthma and it was a tough and demanding sport. I pressured him in the beginning and then let go, realizing that he needed to do what he felt good about, rather than what I felt good about. It reminded me of when my swimming coach in my teens came to beg my mother to make me return to swimming because of my potential, when I really hated the rigours of training and swimming galas. I let go, despite my secret wishes for him to be an excellent water polo player.

I was not so giving with everything else, and now…. I was imploding. Something had to give. My oldest son, was becoming a broody introvert, questioning everything and silently resenting my iron fist. His younger brother, who was always an introvert is a quiet rebellious genius, who knew several computer languages at the age 13 but struggles to comply with a system of learning that is thrust upon him. I had to send my daughter to a private school as she struggled to pay attention in big classes and I had a hysterical breakdown with her teacher at the public school she attended because all my efforts to make interventions had failed.

By the mercy of God, I reminded myself that if had an unexpected departure from this world, they would be ok, because with or without me they are whole human beings who must experience this world and find their paths as I am doing. They are not my possessions nor a part of me, and never have been. They will be responsible for themselves and their own actions. All I can do is provide guidance support where I can, and unconditional love and I appeal to the Creator to guide and protect them. My love can never be conditional upon their ‘success’ or ‘failure’. As a parent, although I wish success for them, my notion of success has altered somewhat, and my demand therefore has been superseded by my need to love and support them, with compassion and forgiveness. Failure is a catalyst for character building and success defined by values, not materiality.

Their relationship with their Creator is their own to develop.

When I left the Turning Point experience, with the wise old man and his team and April 2017, where I mentally let go, I experienced the miracle that came with that release. My son told me that he had decided on his path. He wanted to do a gap year and apply for engineering – aeronautical or BSC astronomy. Without any prompting from me he decided to pursue studies. I found that I was delighted to support him in whichever path he chose. I would gladly support his need for a gap year if he so chose. Whether he went to university or not, I felt released of the need to force him to do what I thought was best, when in fact I have no clue what that is. I was reminded of other members of my family who never studied but are living well. They found their paths in their own way. I asked him when he made his breakthrough. I discovered that he felt release of pressure and things fell into place in his mind, about the same time I was experiencing my epiphany. In that moment I realised that the power of my energy as a mother could stifle or release my children, no matter where I was in the world. My daughter may be a bad speller, but she got the lead part in Romeo and Juliette in grade 6 and I was happy because it made her happy. My younger genius son may be addicted to play station, but he has a self-awareness and strength of mind to work his way through the difficulties of always living in the shadow of his older brother. He has insights beyond his years and will have much to offer the world if I just let him work it out himself. I must let them go and detach more and more as they grow up. It is my choice. If I love my children selfishly and without trust, I impede them. If I release them and trust our Creator with their well-being, I may give them a real chance to discover themselves and their places in this world. I leave with those thoughts today. All my love. Radia❤