“I trust you.”
That’s what my Mom said when I told her I was thinking about dropping out of graduate school.
It’s what she told me when I was trying to decide whether or not to get married.
And earlier, when I was deciding which college to go to.
She gave her opinion, but ended with that phrase. “I trust you.”
She said it even when I chose something she would maybe not have chosen – after all, I did drop out of graduate school.
That phrase was a gift. A gift that allowed me to take everything to my parents and gave me the confidence to make decisions by myself. Their trust instilled an innate sense of self-trust.
It’s a gift that we can give to our own children, and our relationships will be deeper because of it.
But, freedom is a gift that is given bit by bit.
This month I watched:
A three year old pick out his own clothes (shorts and T-shirts no matter the weather if you’re curious). But, I didn’t give him the option of unlimited screen time – or shrug my shoulders when he hit his brother in the head.
An eight year choose which of his chores to complete first, but not whether or not to do chores at all.
A thirteen year old pick his classes for next year, deliberating between orchestra and Spanish. I helped walk through the pros and cons of each, but in the end he decided.
An eleven year old come to me in tears about a friend making fun of her. I listened, hugged her, and gave her my advice. She didn’t take it. I asked about it once, and then let it be.
Trust doesn’t mean I trust them to always choose the “right” thing. It means I trust them to own their choices and own the consequences of those choices.
Sometimes, I grant them too much freedom.
One of my children was getting bullied at school. I listened, I gave advice, I encouraged them to report it. In the end, it was too much. I had to step in and make decisions for the child. But, that’s the great thing about letting go. I can let something go, and then pick it up again.
As my kids get older I move from being involved in everything, to only seeing the edges of their lives. At one point, I could tell you every single thing my child said or did in a day. Later, I found myself making lists of questions to ask them after school. Questions that might open the door of their lives a couple extra inches.
This week our lives changed and I’m back to knowing everything they do – even if I don’t always know what they’re thinking.
Many of us are now homeschooling – or at least entertaining children for longer, in a smaller space.
And despite my urge to control, I’m looking for ways to let go.
I’ll let them pick what they want to learn, or the order they want to learn it. We’ll decide together what we’ll do for P.E. or art. I asked them to make a list of things that nourish them – I got answers from basketball, to sitting still and thinking, we’ll incorporate those too.
I hope to help them find the power that comes from freedom in the new structure of our lives – and grant myself some too.
Nicole loves reading, writing, and traveling anywhere. She is happy going across the world or taking a ten minute walk if there is something new to explore. She has lived most of her life in warm sunny places: Saudi Arabia, Arizona, California, and now Southern Utah, and hopes that never changes. She lives with her business owner/surfer husband Justin, four kids, and no pets, hopefully ever… not even a fish. Nicole helps refugees tell their stories for Their Story is Our Story @tsosrefugees. You can also find her on instagram @nicolesuetaylor and on her sporadically updated blog realliferealjoy.com.
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