"Our life is so short that every time I see my children, I enjoy them as much as I can. Whenever I can I enjoy my beloved, my family, my friends, my apprentices. But mainly I enjoy myself, because I am with myself all the time. Why should I spend my precious time with myself judging myself, rejecting myself, creating guilt and shame? Why should I push myself to be angry or jealous? If I don't feel good emotionally I find out what is causing it and fix it. Then I can recover my happiness and keep going with my story." ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
I recently heard a parenting tip I wish I had been clued in on 30 years earlier when it might have made all the difference, or not. The tip was to occasionally ask our children this question:
"So what did you fail at today?"Kids today seem to have a lot more on their minds than the kids of the 60s and 70s or even those who grew up through the 90s and the 2000s. I'm not certain what the cause is and it really doesn't matter, although anxiety and other self esteem issues seem to be much more prevalent these days even at the preschool level. As we know this can lead to a myriad of issues down the pathways of our little ones and as we are also all painfully aware, anxiety and lack of self esteem can often be the impetus leading our children down paths searching for validation and peace in in all the wrong places and and by all the wrong means.
And as our thoughts drift to those times when we feel in our hearts we failed our children by ignoring the obvious, overreacting, hovering, screaming and going away we can let go of all these burdens of guilt, breathe, and know it's not what is in the past but what lies ahead that is important.
Yes, what did you fail at today is a question we can yet ask our children who have traveled those ill-advised paths. It's not too late, ever, to release our children from the burden of feeling perfection is an immediate goal. Whether they are locked within the vice grip of addiction or moving along a recovery path, the fear of failure, or the impractical notion that a precipitate, immediate and total turn around of their lives is their only options leaves them stuck, or worse, in retreat. What did you fail at today is an interrogative we can offer to give our children pause to rethink their current random journeys.
Then what - what about us?
We as parents of these can and need to release ourselves from our self-imposed exile borne of our frailties and missteps. Only by taking this first step can we can move on and be fully free by asking ourselves the very same question we can ask our children:
"So what did I fail at today?"
Parents of addicts and those firmly in recovery often fear saying the wrong thing or taking the wrong approach in response to our children's responses to life events. The important thing is to ALWAYS BE THERE for our children for those instances where they break free and show their true, REAL selves.
Then, we must take an active approach to our lives, even if it means doing nothing in response to our addicts' words and actions, which can often be the best approach as we know - how's that for counterintuitivity!
Owning we are not perfect and giving ourselves permission to fail from time to time is freeing. Demanding perfection of ourselves is exhausting and the last thing we need to encounter along OUR recovery pathway. And allowing little failures is another pathway to move us along our recovery so we learn and keep moving.
Fear of failure puts us in a catatonic state. Allowing ourselves to fail is like the explorer who takes that leap across the crevasse to that finger hold on the smallest of outcroppings of the cliff.
We can forgive ourselves of ALL THOSE THINGS we perceive we did wrong as our children dove into the vortex of their chosen addictions or even as they progress along their recovery pathways. This is the only way we can move on with no fear to live our lives with passion, knowing we WILL FAIL along the way and learn, move on and keep moving to live, love and laugh as The Universe wishes for us all. This is the recipe for learning to love ourselves, live our lives, then learning to hate The Addiction while at the same time loving our babies with all their faults, frailties and missteps.
So ask yourself, "What have I failed at today?"
Take that leap into the nothingness. I dare ya!
"Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill