what I’ve been learning about control

This is what I’ve been learning about control: that trying to control doesn’t work.

And ironically, I’m more at peace when I let go and control less.

Do you remember the first time you canoed with your kiddos against a current?

If you have, you may have an inkling what it’s like to homeschool parent. And though we really need to move together in unison to accomplish all that we must, the scenario is ripe for potential conflict some days. There’s also a lot of noise in a small space. And you, mama, are privy to most every bit of it.

When the kids get angry, I struggle. I was not endowed with the ‘ignore’ gene that I recently heard a friend share is her approach to overhearing conflict in the other room. I wish I were, but I don’t like fighting. Especially because repeated conflict feels continuous when a parent is living and learning with her kiddos.

Parameters and consequences are required in a household of siblings. Consequences teach that the inappropriate behaviour is not worth the time unless they’re willing to serve the time–helping their sibling, cleaning the sibling’s room, scrubbing a floor. It tells them that they’re going to have to stop what they’re doing and reminds them that what they’re doing isn’t working. Parameters on interpersonal behaviours teach people to take care of other people’s hearts. They teach that they aren’t the only person in the world, that they need each other, and they need to act accordingly.

But I’m learning that when kids get angry, I can’t make them stop being angry. I can’t make them stop acting out in their anger. Oh, I’ve tried. In a multitude of ways over the years. But it doesn’t change the fact that everyone gets angry sometime. No one has ever made me stop being angry by telling me to not be angry.

I’m learning to let them figure it out. Though not likely in the same room. They might have to go outside for a walk to cool down, they might be given a chore to work on until they come up with a plan, they might need to be separated from someone who they are frustrated with, but I’m not going to force them to stop being angry.

I won’t repent of my ‘enforcing apologies’ approach with my kiddos though. I believe they need to be taught normal patterns of engaging others after they’ve hurt someone. And yet… And yet, I know that doesn’t necessarily, actually most likely will not make someone want to turn from their ways, or even give a rip that they hurt their sibling. To my surprise, I have watched my kiddos come back with a sincere apology, and a willingness, from the heart, to make things right.

I have learned that though my saturation for fighting has well exceeded the statute of limitations years ago, there is no timeline to learning what must be learned in each child’s journey. I would know –because I’m still learning. So I better give grace to those in my family who have far fewer years than I in learning what must be learned when living with another human being.

When guiding this canoe of kiddos, I will try to facilitate what needs to be learned, mete out more grace than I imagined,  and trust that they’ll learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it. So I’ll continue practicing to let go of control.

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Teresa Wiedrick

I help overwhelmed homeschool mamas shed what’s not working in their homeschool & life, so they can show up authentically, purposefully, and confidently in their homeschool & life.