Inside this post: Sometimes our kids start walking down a path that we know is not right for them. How we respond can make or break your relationship. It’s our job as parents to help our kids grow through their mistakes.
Freshman year seemed to deliver a boy I had never met before.
He didn’t care about grades, was making questionable choices with who he spent his time with, and found a disrespectful tone, his go-to.
I pushed back hard. I kept the boundaries tight and routinely nagged about what needed to be done and when, as well as reminded him of the consequences if he chose to ignore them.
He continued to spiral and our relationship suffered.
Then I remembered–he is still the boy I raised.
Yes, yes, he’s making some mistakes right now.
But how is he growing through this?
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Can I notice that? Can I focus on that?
Can I wear THAT instead of the cloak of disappointment?
I remember the cloak was so heavy each morning. It smelled of resentment and it sounded like someone I didn’t want to be.
I began to wonder…..how heavy must this cloak be for him? Can he even find himself under the weight of it?
Remember who he is.
His patterns were always good, but this year he found himself depressed and unmotivated.
I had reacted in fear.
I let the what-ifs get the best of me.
What if…..he doesn’t graduate because he doesn’t care?!
What if….he can’t get a job or get into a college and chooses the path of least resistance?
What if…..he’s lazy?
What if….I should be forcing him to join a team or club or something?!
I had allowed the fear to infiltrate the belief.
I had always had unconditional belief in this kid. He had shown me nothing less until this year.
It turns out fear can encourage all kinds of behaviors you wouldn’t normally choose.
It can put our focus on what they are currently instead of who they are.
So I paused.
I took a deep breath.
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I chose to focus on growth. I let the mistakes be.
Every single day for the rest of that year, I chose to focus on where he was exercising good judgment.
Some days I could only find something as small as what he chose to eat for dinner.
Some days it was his emotional awareness.
Others it was his fierce loyalty to his friends.
It sounded like: “I saw how you chose to stand by Justin even when he didn’t necessarily deserve it. You are really loyal, I like that about you.”
“I know you will make the right decision. I trust your judgment.”
Here’s the thing, I didn’t always trust his judgment.
But I always had an unconditional belief that his foundation was strong and that he had all the tools to make choices that were FOR him.
I leaned on that.
Unconditional belief became our fuel.
It got us through that year and helped heal our relationship from nose-diving further. It also reminded him that I am on his team.
Acknowledge the mistake, but focus on the growth
What that means is I will take a moment with the mistake to mine for gold, and then we will focus on the growth.
We will focus on WHO you are and WHO you are becoming.
We can attend to WHAT you are without living there.
Because what you are is temporary, and if we don’t want to make it permanent we must bring our focus, our words, and our behavior to this beautiful human becoming the next version of himself.
If we keep reminding them of the last version, there will be no room for the new version.
This is a contributed piece by Kerry Foreman. Kerry Foreman is a Registered Psychotherapist practicing in Colorado. She offers Mindfulness Coaching, Personal Growth Coaching, and Parent Coaching nationally and internationally. Kerry is a writer, a system questioner, a non-conformer. She is a partner of twenty-four years to her best friend, a mom to two teens, a daughter, sister, friend, and trauma survivor. While Kerry wears many hats, she considers one of her most important ones to be healer. Self-healing and reaching out to help others on this journey. Kerry offers personal growth groups, parenting groups, and teen groups to assist on that journey. Find out more at www.kerryforeman.com or find her on Facebook or Instagram.
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