Fallon Michael on Unsplash
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.” - Kahlil Gibran
I had the pleasure of having the lovely Michael Fall as my guest on this week’s Insightful Conversations. Michael is a “Solution Focused Coach” grounded in the understanding of the 3 Principles. His interest in mental health started way back when his mother gave him a psychology book at the age of fifteen. Since then, Michael has had many different careers within the helping/coaching profession. He has been an educational assistant, personal support worker, supply teacher, martial arts teacher, and physical fitness trainer.
Michael first came across the Principles back in 2015, when he was still running his Crossfit gym. One of his students, whom he had taken under his wing, wanted to repay Michael for his kindness by gifting him a CD of a Sydney Banks talk as well as a variety of 3 Principles books. Michael said that within the first 5 minutes of listening to Syd speak, he burst out laughing, and his life was forever changed.
To this day, Michael still isn’t sure what it was he heard within those first few minutes, but he does remember thinking to himself, “Oh my God, I’ve been making it all up!” With that one insight, Michael was able to let go of the burden of the painful relationship he’d had with his father. In turn, all his other relationships improved, including his relationship with his son.
Listening to Michael reminded me of how coming across the Principles positively impacted my relationships, especially with my two sons. Being a mother to my boys has been the biggest blessing and a privilege of my life. We have the most beautiful, loving, and respectful relationships. We never fight or raise our voices. We have open, honest dialogues, and nothing is off-limits regarding what we share with each other. But that was not always the case.
As a single mother struggling to raise teenage boys, it was not uncommon for us to butt heads. Having grown up in a Narcissistic environment and having suffered my fair share of Narcissistic relationships, I was determined that my sons would not grow up to be Narcissistic. Due to my hyper-vigilance, I would jump to correct them for the slightest infraction. I didn’t realize that I was inadvertently creating an environment that caused them to become more defensive and more entrenched in any negative behavior.
When I came across the Principles, I began to see that there was no need for me to worry. They were typical teenage boys displaying a healthy level of self-esteem and entitlement. Once I understood the concept of low moods, instead of being reactive and addressing the issue in the heat of the moment, I waited for our emotions to settle. The miracle was that once I gave my sons the space to return to their natural state of wellbeing, they took responsibility and apologized for any rude or disrespectful behavior without me having to say anything. If only I had known this earlier!
How many of us innocently micromanage our teenage children’s feelings, emotions, and behaviors? We are so fearful that they won’t turn out to be loving, kind, and considerate members of society, we hover over them, trying to mold them into who we think they should be. We innocently forget that we are all created equal, and that includes our children too. This means that the same innate intelligence that is within us is also within them. The same wisdom that is within us is also within them. The same resilience that is within us is also within them.
This means we don’t have to monitor or control our children’s every move. We don’t have to judge them and point out everything they are doing wrong. We don’t have to worry and fret about them unnecessarily. And neither do we have to nag them to instill our values and beliefs. Trust me; if they’ve been living with us for the first sixteen years of their life, they know what our values are.
Instead, we model for our children the behavior we would like to see in them. We recognize and respect that they are their own person, separate from us. We allow them to tap into their own wisdom and innate intelligence for guidance. When we see that they are capable of making wise decisions… they live up to that. When we see that they will learn from their mistakes… they live up to that. When we see the beauty and perfection of who they are at their essence… they live up to that.
It’s essential for us as parents to remember that our children are our most precious gifts. Our job is to lovingly guide them, not squash their spirit or their dreams. At the age of fourteen, I gave each of my sons a copy of one of my favorite books, “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. I wanted them to know that they were free to follow their dreams and live their own lives. The quote above is an excerpt from the chapter on Children.
With love and appreciation, Del 💕