I am someone for whom control had been a huge thing growing up. It came as a result of suffering from anxiety as an adolescent and young adult. I always felt like I never really had choices and control over things in my life, unless it was superficial. To some degree, this was true. To another degree, I did not feel confident speaking up about my anxiety or discomfort too much. Don’t get me wrong. My parents were very caring and involved, but I would feel guilty for talking about my problems and complaining. So I think that this was why as I reached adulthood, I strove to push myself to do all the things I was scared to do when I was younger and I knew that I could be in charge of the majority of how things unfolded. This led to me thinking at one point I could control pretty much everything, and if I could not, I would be a failure.
Enter motherhood. I had pretty much taken a lot of these false notions with me. I also thought that I had to be perfect, do things perfectly with my child, and that if things weren’t happening exactly like they were supposed to, I was a failure as a mother. I put so much pressure on myself to control everything about raising Michael in those early days- what he ate, how long he slept, how he played. And of course when he was failing to meet milestones due to nothing I did, I, the controller, blamed myself. It took therapy, time, and a lot of ways to learn self-love to get to the place I am at today. I realize I am a good Mom who needs to learn how to relax once in a while and not try and control everything my son is and does. I still sometimes forget and Michael and I will inevitably have words. Then, always it works out in the end. He will learn from his mistake, I will feel bad that I blew things out of proportion, and I will see how the universe is teaching me again to go easy on myself. That is so much easier to do with other people. With me, I am getting there, but I have my days when I still need the reminder.
It’s not that I don’t want him to learn from mistakes and rush in to fix things, (that was something I did when he was a baby, but stopped doing a long time ago), but I see he is doing something like asserting himself and making a mistake or trying to push my buttons over something small and I feel this nagging in my gut. I am not in control. Yes, hello, comes the voice back. No one is. No one person can control another person, thing or event. Even a parent cannot control what her child does. She can set up positive and negative consequences. She can set up rules. But it is up to the child to either make a good or bad choice. There are some days I find this easier to handle than others. On the harder days, I just remind myself to release my control over people and things that I cannot influence. Now, this is not the same thing as not having boundaries and rules for your child. But what it means is that you let them either follow the rules or break them. Then you can say, that was their choice, just like it was your choice to make the rules and then enforce the consequences. What I’ve learned about myself is that there is still some releasing over control that I need to do in order to not get stressed and I always parent better when I choose this way to proceed.
Exceptional Parents, how big are you on control? It’s important to be realistic and remember that no one person can truly control another, even a parent and child nor should they want to. Yes, there needs to be rules and boundaries with children, but they also need to be able to have wiggle room to learn and make mistakes. Parents need to be able to give them that room, as well as give themselves that room as parents to grow. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.