I learned that I should take the co-pilot’s role teaching them how to fly. That I should let go of the controls. So I try. They remind me of my place every time I forget it. So here I am, a worried mother who is helplessly watching her sons suffer. And I’m so worried they will suffer even more. I know in theory that’s how it should be. I have suffered. But I know how they could avoid all that pain. Do I? Of course not.
So here is how obligations are invented in our family:
We make the rules at the family meetings. These are the rules that concern allocation of chores and timing of regular activities where the resources are scarce, such as PlayStation or bathroom.
The discussions are really between the four oldest members of the family: the two young persons (Joel 13, Noe 15) and us parents. The little ones (10 and 6) lose focus during the discussions very quickly, but they do participate in the voting.
Joel and Noe keep the rules discussed at the meetings. But we do have a lot of problems with the young men when it comes to studying or practicing for their music lessons.
My solution was until now to make a plan with them every weekend and every day of the school breaks: how long and at what time they would be studying, practicing, doing some exercise or sports. We built in – I thought – plenty of do nothing time. We parents made suggestions, and they argued until we all were ok with the plans. Strangely, they usually did not argue a lot, and it was easy to reach a compromise.
So until recently, I kept controlling how they were progressing with the plan. If they were behind, I tried to make them catch up. I would say: “You have to stick to your own plan”. Noe would say: “I don’t HAVE to do anything!” Joel would say nothing but also do nothing.
As a result, they have always done minimum efforts to pass the exams and to survive their class concerts. And we strongly feel that they could do better. But appearantly it is the screens they are really interested in.
So, after a couple of years experimenting, I have to conclude that my assistance is not helping them. I have to let it go, at least the controlling part of it. Planning makes sense, but we should do it another way.
So I have decided to have a truly open discussion with each of them. Open discussion? How do you do that with your children? How can I be not judgemental? How do I convince them that I am truly open for anything they have to say? I have some ideas, let’s see if they will work. We have two weeks school break starting tomorrow – I’ll do it now or never!