Control freak moms, this is for you. In fact, it’s for me too since I’m a control freak mom in recovery. I have a hard time parenting without “extra” supervision. If we want to be real honest, we’ll call it by some of the ugly names it really is… micromanaging, helicopter parenting, perfectionism, paranoia, anxiety. I say NO or “don’t do that” than the three little letters Y-E-S. When I step back and evaluate my parenting perspective, it is really tough to see myself being so harsh and controlling. Would it really be that bad to say YES?
Moms, I know it’s hard to hear, but it is also very freeing to understand.
Back in October when I visited my doctor for what she thought was just going to be an annual physical, I sprung the whole “I think I need help” talk on her. I knew I had anxiety and anger issues. I had just never been ready to talk about them.
One thing she said to me which will bring this little story back to my point of saying YES to our kids is this, “I used to avoid those moms who were constantly hovering over their kids. I avoided them at all costs. Then I started to understand them and now I feel sorry for them. They are trying to control their surroundings and their kids because they don’t know how to control themselves.”
Yes, yes, and yes.
I was one of those moms. I have lost several friends because I’m the harsh mom, the strict mom, the micromanaging mom. Once I realized that what my children were doing wasn’t as bad as the battle going on inside my heart and my head, I realized I could relax a little.
“It’s not you, it’s me.” As much as we hated those words back in our dating years, they are words of maturity for moms. It means we’ve opened our eyes to see that we have work to do… on ourselves. And honestly, that is never a bad thing.
The first thing I want you to try is saying YES to your kids.
Not on everything, of course. Candy at the checkout line… no. Staying up until 10:00… no. Giving in and buying the toy your child is throwing a fit about… a big heck no! You’re still allowed to say no. And you absolutely should.
But what if you said YES to…
- playing in the mud
- finger painting
- cooking a meal on their own
- getting a pet (within reason of course)
- popcorn for dinner
- going for a family bike ride
- expanding their play boundaries outside
- taking them to the park
- jumping in the puddles
- doing a science experiment
- trying a new sport or activity
Sadly, what I’ve realized is that often what my kids are asking for isn’t anything absurd or unreasonable. In fact, many times they are just asking for me. For my time. For me to be present in their day with them. For me to put down the computer, for me to stop cleaning the house, for me to see them. Really, truly see them.
Sometimes saying YES can be really annoying. Like when your kid asks you to watch him try to ride his bike on his own and he falls off for the 200th time. But when he does stay on and keeps pedaling down the sidewalk all he wants to hear is you cheering him on.
And often saying YES will result in a mess. I can’t even pretend I’m okay with this. I can barely keep my house clean and myself sane so adding “mess” to it just isn’t in my itinerary. This is usually where my NOs would come into play. However, learning to say YES has opened up wonderful new areas of independence for my children.
One morning my oldest son (age 9 at the time) asked if he could make breakfast. All three boys wanted waffles with Nutella (not our fancy Nutella recipe… just a simple toaster waffle) on them. I gritted my teeth, took a deep breath, and looked at his sweet face and said… YES.
His bewildered expression showed he never expected me to say YES. And in his mind I’m sure he was questioning if mom would come downstairs and throw a fit because the kitchen was a mess or he wasn’t doing something right.
Truthfully, I surprised myself with the YES. Especially being a school morning. But in learning to relax and let go, this was something I knew I had to do. And to make sure I gave my child space, I stayed upstairs until he came up and told me breakfast was ready.
Not only was breakfast ready, but he allowed one of his brothers to help. They worked together (without fighting) to have plated Nutella waffle sandwiches at their spots on the counter, to have the milk ready to pour, and cleaned the kitchen up immaculately.
My heart was overjoyed that day. Sure, a little break from daily routine was lovely, but more so was that my boys’ hearts were overjoyed. They were so proud of their accomplishment of preparing breakfast. They felt trusted and independent.
The whole time I was fretting a mess and that they’d be rushed for school. Instead, we found a place of joy and calm just from a simple YES.
Moms, letting go and parenting open handed is hard. That journey looks different for each of us. You may not relate to my journey at all. You may already be great at YES, but you may have a friend who isn’t. My sister-in-law unknowingly pushes me in this area. I look at her with raised eyebrows and holding my breath through the activity my children are participating in. But in the end, it’s okay.
Be that YES parent today. Even if it’s hard, say YES. Say YES and say no more. Allow your child to try new things and make a mess and be a daredevil on the playground. You will truly be filled with amazement at your child, at their joy, and at the joy and relief you’ll experience in doing so.
Cheering you on!
Say YES to your kids today and tell me how it went!