I got to thinking about our human tendency to not want to be told what to do. Those who trust in their lives and make choices easily were lucky enough to have their caregivers make the right choices for them. So that they were then able to make the right choices for themselves.
The two year-old refuses to do what I ask. She has no self-control and she’s frightened of that. She needs my control, wants me to prove she’s worth it. Even if she doesn’t seem to be scared, she is still a wild beast in need of help taming herself. She needs my commands to be unquestionable. Some are sometimes negotiable but in the end, the adults are always driving. She is always a little better when she comes out of the Thinking Chair.
The ten year-old doesn’t want to eat his breakfast. Or his lunch. Or his dinner. Wants to show he has power over his choices and his body. He pretends he doesn’t hear you. He seems lazy, making bad choices. He still wants/needs me to make it clear that there are no other choices. Because once he just accepts life’s necessities, he can get on to the more important choices he needs to make about his happiness and success and love. He is still hoping he means enough to me for me to reprimand him.
The teen, the one who doesn’t have a parent in his face continuing to create boundaries for him? He’s now sure he’s not worth it. He makes his contrary choices just to see what authorities will do. To see if they can disprove what he already knows. That he sucks and is still not worth being cared for, taught self-restraint and self-care, being made to believe he matters. He has now become the world’s problem. His dance with questioning authority may eventually be everyone’s problem.
Now as parents to ourselves, we do have a choice. To take it easy or to go work on it. Refusing to do what we need to do, what we know is right for us, isn’t really a choice though. Our inner child is watching how we treat them. For instance, going to the grocery store lets our inner child know their basic needs are worth caring for. Ignoring our mental and physical needs to be healthy says we are not worth loving. Sometimes we have to do stuff we don’t like. Like limiting our calorie intake. But we are also smart enough parents to reward ourselves for a job well done. A reward means so much more when it’s earned. We get to choose that too.
Every choice is really easier when we think of a bigger picture of love and care. One that takes care of us, those we love, and then the greater world. When our true choices appear to us, we are happier and clearer people who raise happy clear little people.