I recently read an article called Letting Go of Control. I thought it was going to be about parents who try to control everything, but it turns out it was a more about marriage and day-to-day life, although the example given was something I think all parents can understand and respond with a hearty, “we’ve been there!”
It did make me think there still is quite a bit more to say about parenting and parents who try to control too much. The reality was stated nicely by the author:
You see, control demands that others behave in set, predictable ways. Whether it’s the dog, your friend helping out with the kids, the restaurant, or even the weather! None of these are going to behave completely predictably. Certainly, much of the time you can predict situations and behavior, but many times you can’t. And it’s those times you can’t when you need another approach.
When you’re in control mode, your first impulse when something goes out of control is to say, “What happened here? Who’s fault is it? Get back on track!” Which will work if you have power of life and death over the situation, but that’s rarely the case.
Do what you can…then relax
Obviously, I spend a lot of time talking about prevention, being proactive and planning for things as much as possible. It was one of my first posts and prevention will continue to be a major theme of what I have to say. But, it would be incredibly naive to think that all things can be predicted or that all things can be accounted for. Spice of life…right? Ugh.
Things change, unexpected things happen. Batteries run out, rain falls on the birthday party, the waiter is unbelievably slow, traffic sucks, your car DVD player breaks the night before your 12 hour road trip (happened to us three weeks ago)…
@#$% happens. It is how you react that will make the difference.
Do you tense up?
When you lose control, do you REALLY lose it?
Do you break down?
Sometimes you can do more damage trying to make up for the things that went wrong than would have happened if you would have done nothing at all.
One of the benefits of being proactive and planning for things is that when things do go haywire, you are less likely to freak out because you have over-prepared. You brought the extra pack of crayons, you brought one of those weird tubes of yogurt, you have extra batteries. You can go with the flow when things happen.
But then there are times when things aren’t even that predictable.
These are important moments, as you will teach your kids how to respond when things do not go their way!
This reminds me of several families with whom I have worked over the years that have benefitted from simply doing LESS. In the attempts to manage everything, in the attempts to cover all bases…to make sure everything was perfect and right, they simply did too much. Too much hovering. Too much talking. Too much interaction. Too much fear about what would happen if something did not go as planned or as intended.
You know these people…it makes you nervous simply watching them. Imagine how the kids are when watching you when you are this way.
Plan for what you can and let things fall into place. If all goes awry, follow the recommendations of the article:
1. Acknowledge that the situation is out of control.
2. Focus on finding a solution.
3. Enjoy what is.
You might find yourself doing less damage, having more fun, and (oh, by the way) making better parenting decisions after all.