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November 18, 2015

The End Game: Letting Go of Outcomes in Parenting.

Vladimir Pustovit/Flickr
Every choice, every situation, every life has the opportunity to become anything.

A seedling oak tree’s spindly spine and lime green leaves do not reflect what it will look like in 150 years. Over time, wind may curve the trunk, sun sprinkled under a canopy of elders determine the placement of its limbs, access to rainfall dictate girth and a fingerprint of bark mysteriously swirl.

The end does not come at the beginning, but that doesn’t stop parents from believing that an outcome can be determined.

When I gave birth to twins, I set the intention that they would be good, productive people with wonderful lives. By my choosing the right schools, buying the best milk, making them do chores and stopping weirdos from ruining them, they would be destined for a perfect life. Setting aside the improbability of keeping children in an injury-free bubble, a definition of good, productive and perfect is in the eye of the beholder.

When Play-Doh blobs arrive, they have no idea what the world is like, making parents believe that they must clue them in on how to dress, survive the brutality of school, decide what is good or bad and otherwise function in society.

Early on, I thought it was within my control, and a mommy’s mission, to shape the twins into clones to take the baton forward, endlessly reprinting who I am.

A world full of me meant no war, more politeness, less trash, better hygiene and no one giving me the finger on the highway. Other parents set intentions that offspring make their beds, do jobs diligently, respect their elders, never take no for an answer and hug Uncle Leroy.

It is a belief that if we do X+Y-Z a child will equal perfection. In this attempt to create a world full of preferred images, we nip and tuck a new human until they hear a supervisor’s voice in their heads, not their own.

The question is, what does this type of mentoring do to our tribe?

A viewpoint is so called because every set of eyeballs sees things from a unique blend of fractions of light that travel on synapses to a brain, which formats information based on age, education, background and mystery stew. My kids are proof of this, since both were raised the same way, at the same time, and yet only agree when they are intent on proving me wrong.

When most kids hit their teens they begin to question the benefits of mommy-daddy-managed-cloning. Adults living under a premise that a dictatorship is best for a child’s future are irritated immensely when “why” begins to sound like a four-letter word and gratitude seems strangely absent. Thankfully I paused long enough to listen to my own pair of questioners, allowing the three of us to discover that individual perception better determines how to mold oneself—not a generational doctrine handed down from before.

Every choice, every situation, every life has the opportunity to become anything. Nothing is set in stone, not even stones, which will erode under a steady current of water.

What is, is, until it isn’t.

Control is a wicked illusion, which at best is perception run amok and at worst is power, driven by ego. To believe it good or possible to take a person and mold them into perfection if the right steps are followed lacks common sense.

No one anywhere can control an end game. All known outcomes have new ones just around the corner, because there are continual determining factors. Computers base probability on the number of outcomes available, which means nothing is determined until it actually happens. We cannot predict what is in the next second, or the others that follow. Take a recent Michigan State win over rival University of Michigan. This game was considered over until a nearly perfect punter fumbled the ball in the last 10 seconds of play.

Probable outcomes are based on what could happen, not what will happen.

When babies take their first breath, they aren’t without an operating program. They have an inner wisdom gripping the steering wheel, and only require someone to fill them in on red lights and the lines at the DMV.

Mentoring beyond the mundane is mucking with our evolution pie, and will ultimately lead to weak, boring robots without an organic fingerprint. If we are able to discover what is true for ourselves, we will always carry our own inner voice and go on to create unique swirls of bark upon the earth.

A well-set intention that, “my children have wonderful lives,” in the end can look many different ways.

Knowing this doesn’t stop me from wailing at what I cannot control. But control is an illusion—one that I allow myself to enjoy with each clean sweep of the leaves on our oak-filled yard. Until another batch floats down from the great towering Buddhas that define how to stand upon this earth.

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Relephant Read:

Authentic Parenting Equals Giving Up Control.

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Author: Deb Lecos LMT, CST-T

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Vladimir Pustovit/Flickr

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