Outside my second story window is the beginnings of a robins nest. The young pair of robins are busy carrying last year’s dry lily leaves and other carefully chosen items to the crook of my tiny maple tree. With each new addition the mother- to- be lays her belly down and snuggles the nesting material into the shape of a nest, turns a bit and does the same again in each direction. The young parents seem very happy with this spot directly above my bird bath and feeder. The problem they seem to be missing is the large amount of traffic to this area for those same accoutrements by other birds. I am particularly concerned about the starlings who I am confident would find robin eggs a treat.
Watching these blindly confident young parents I was reminded of the way that each of us has to learn from our experiences. I thought about how God allows us to do that, confident that next time the opportunity arises we will be wiser in our choices and learn some deep lessons along the way. I am certain that the next brood these robins have will be placed in a safer spot.
This made me think of a new mother I recently met. She was so greatly overwhelmed by the need to be perfect for her child and everyone else that she couldn’t conceive of a few minutes a day to just relax and care for her own emotional needs. I have observed this tendency a lot in recent generations of parents who want so badly to be better parents than the previous generations or as good as those they had. Popular psychology has placed the blame for the problems of individuals on their parents. Sometimes that is the case, but mostly it is the children’s own soul contracts which define their experience of life. Parents may blame themselves or try too hard feeling that their child’s success is all about their parenting. Carried to an extreme these attitudes encourage parents to neglect their own needs which can create an imbalance of another sort.
Like the robin, children have to learn from their experiences. They need to think for themselves, choose and make mistakes for themselves. Failing, they will of necessity learn to go within and find the motivation and will power to succeed for their selves. No one can do these things for them. If we allow others to drive our lives we never learn to drive them for ourselves. Truly, it is easier to control or push our children than to watch them struggle to find their own motivation, will power and courage, and it takes a greater amount of trust. It is less frustrating to do for our children than to wait for them to do for their selves, or to sit by while they leave things undone. But if we do everything for them, we become slaves to our children.Parents teach by example and the stress of trying to hyper-parent, teaches a fearful, overwhelmed, and imbalanced way of life. It may make them not want to grow up to live that level of hyper-responsibility they see in their parents.
To model life for your children,learn to live a life that your children will long to experience for their selves. This is an endeavor that will reward everyone!
Let your children observe your learning process and how you problem solve. Let them see you take time for yourself and enjoy relaxing and being alive and whole. This will help them learn to solve their own problems, relax into their own life, find joy and wholeness. They will need unstructured time to choose their direction and find their motivation; time to make poor decisions and learn for their selves what they really want and what will work for them. The greatest level of vigilance will not prevent circumstances which are pre-determined to occur for your child. They have a destiny which is not in your control.
Like the robin, children will learn from their experience and will succeed because they have tried and failed and are encouraged to see that as OK. Failure is a step toward success and a necessary part of learning. God knows this and has allowed a couple of generations to try hyper-parenting in an attempt to create happy and whole people. If you have gone to this extreme, it is OK to change your approach and find more balance. There is no time like the present and no blame for trying to the best of your ability, and then choosing a different, more balanced approach.
One of my favorite meditations is to see life as God’s river. I surrender into the flow of life and release all the hard things (metaphorically rocks in the river create turbulence and rapids) to God. When traveling down a river, there is always a current that flows deep through the rocky places and will carry you safely through, but if you try to grab hold of the rocks you will get beat up by them. Trust the flow of life’s river and surrender the rocks, or the hard things to God. When you do, you’ll find there is a way through the hard and dangerous places that is safe and amazingly smooth.
As you wake up in the morning and step out of bed, step into God’s river and release all your objectives and agendas into God’s care. Ask God to help you find a way to accomplish with grace, power and ease all that is important today and to let go and trust that whatever doesn’t get done is really not important at this time.
Spend your day in the flow of God’s river. The world is changing so fast right now. If you try to control things you will feel frustrated and stressed out. You can trust God’s river to take you to the perfect place for you.