Kermit says to Fozzy Bear, “Turn left at the fork in the road.”
A moment later a massive, silver fork sticks out of the ground as the road splits in two, and he hangs a left.
Easy, peasy. If only life could be as simple as The Muppet Movie when parenting our children.
This is the time of year for oh-so-many forks in our roads.
As my students head back to school, big decisions, “like literally the biggest decisions ever,” need to be made. Should I play that sport, tryout for this new group, or join that committee? What should I major in? Do I really need to take this class? Is it really time to kiss my summer love goodbye forever? What if, he’s The One? Like, “literally”?
As parents, we see the same prongs in their situations.
A turn must be made eventually, but should I steer her in a direction? Do I tell her the ol’ “there are so many fish in the sea” line and risk ruining our relationship? Should she quit her extra-curricular activity to reduce stress? What if that is her only outlet? She wants to major in what?! She never has mentioned that before today. Should I pay for this?
What are both sides to do?
When life bubbles with anticipation for the deadline of a decision, anxiety (and most likely a bit of snapping) starts. Over-charged remarks from the stress stir up stomping and storming around the house, too. Perhaps sweet yet piercing high-pitched voices and tip-toeing around the obvious are another family’s style.
However, for our family, when these foundation-shaking forks appear, it’s time to pull out my handy dandy…
4 Strategies to Make a Decision and Move On:
>> Literally Make Space. If their room, or even your room, does not have a clean, clear spot to sit and relax, make a space elsewhere. Of course, we could yell at our children or ourselves to clear the clutter. Yet when we are overcome with a heavy decision, that cleaning turns into a convenient distraction to prolong any decision making. So step into a place somewhere else. Head outside on a blanket or in a hammock. Stay in the play-tent, on the sofa, or anywhere away from tasks, sounds, and distraction. Go to Your Space.
>> Figuratively Make Space. Breathe in and out, rest your monkey mind, and be still. Make room to focus on the fork in the road only.
>> Make a Decision. This part isn’t so tricky when we settle down and think.
Flip a coin. If your heart sinks, you should chose the losing option. If you are overjoyed, relieved, or “just knew it,” go with it.
Make a pro/con list. These work for many of us. Take those lofty, emotionally charged thoughts and put them down in black and white. Which side outweighs the other? Look at your handwriting for each side, any clues there?
Journal it. Write your heart and soul out about the decision until your hand hurts. Any clarity?
Invite a neutral, important person into your space. In person is best, or by phone, tell them ev-er-y-thing. No texting. This requires actual talking. Talk until you have nothing left to say (or start repeating your soundtrack). What did you hear? Was the answer spoken literally or in a round-about way?
Interview the subject of the fork. Want to help your child? Find out about her. How does she feel? Does she need your superwoman cape? Ask the source, listen, and communicate.
Seek an expert. The counselors, therapists, or support groups are trained for this. Use their skills to help you decide and learn new skills for the next time.
>> Go outside and play. Exercise, fresh air, and smiling will be the best fertilizer for your new path.
Ideally, I would then whip out my slick guitar and sing, Good Riddance by Green Day:
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life…
But the kiddos might “literally” die—“like literally, Mom.”
Have other ideas to help those facing a fork in the road? We’d love to hear from you too.
Author: Kate Fleming
Editor: Emily Bartran
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren