Life On the Other Side

Why I Refuse to Make Their Decisions

One of the joys of being a parent is watching your children grow and learn. There are what I call “lightbulb moments,” when you can almost see the connection being made, that they have figured out the hows or whys. The nature of these moments may change, but the joy in witnessing them never seems to diminish.

I remember the first time a shoe was tied successfully, the wide eyes when a connection was made between a new concept and a familiar one, the moment the phrase “step and throw” made sense.   As they grew, the concepts changed, but the moments they fully made sense were noted. These accomplishments were all the more valuable when they were discovered with little to no adult help.

In recent years, I have heard the lament, “Adulting is hard,” and “I want to be a little kid again.” (Isn’t this what I have been telling them for 18 years: just slow down and enjoy being a kid; there will be plenty of time to be an adult.) At this I just smile and nod; being an adult is not what you anticipate it to be as a child. Of course I know that despite the fact they have hit that magic adult age, there is so much more to be learned and that I will still enjoy watching it happen.

These moments, though not as frequent, still happen. They are adults, but not necessarily fully independent yet. My insistence that they make (at least some of) their own appointments is sometimes met with horror and a collection of objections. When I refuse to make decisions for them, they complain like they did when I made decisions they didn’t like (and sometimes even more so now that I’m making them make the hard choices).  When I withhold advice, they harrumph and figuratively (and sometimes literally) stomp off. What they have not yet learned is that I am just as stubborn as they are (where do they think they got it from?) and am not likely to bend on these issues.

The end result is them figuring things out on their own; they add a new experience to the bank to draw on when life throws them another twist. I have the pleasure of seeing them learn even more and the smug satisfaction that I still sometimes know more than they do.

As they move on and fully out of our home, I know these moments will continue. The one thing I have learned over time is how much I still have to learn. No lifetime is long enough to soak in all the knowledge and experience one would like to have. I also know the joy of figuring out a problem on my own. While sometimes the answer comes faster and easier from someone who has more life experience, many lessons are more rewarding when you come to a conclusion on your own.

My husband and I certainly didn’t have all the answers when we first became parents. Our parents were wise and realized that some things are best learned through experience; they let us muddle through to find the answers ourselves. It is sometimes a challenge to balance being accessible without meddling, but I think it is the only way to ensure we still see those flashes of light as we watch them learn. Plus, I like still knowing some things they don’t.


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