Ever have someone say to you that they know exactly what you’re thinking? Let me give you an example of a conversation I’ve (unfortunately) had more than once:
“Hey, I know what you’re thinking right now…”
“Yeah, you’re upset and thinking that it’s unfair that I’m not letting you stay out past curfew tonight because you think I don’t trust you.”
“Actually, Mom, that’s not what I am thinking at all.”
I find these situations amusing because, let’s be honest, there’s no way another person can fully step into your mind, experience or perspective. However, in my years of parenting, I have to admit that I have been guilty of assuming that I knew exactly what my teenagers were thinking, planning or conspiring… and oh it’s hard to admit… but often I was completely off base.
Take it from someone who knows…
So where does this all-assuming-knowledge-of-what-my-child-is-thinking come from?
I cannot speak for other parents, but for me, my assumptions of what my teenagers where thinking come from one very powerful source. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s name is fear.
Fear of what they would choose…
Fear that I could not protect them from pain…
Fear that they would get hurt…
Fear that their choices would cripple their future…
It’s funny really, fear has an interesting way of isolating us from the present moment. As a parent, I’ve found that I often step back into my own past and partner it with my worst experiences (multiplied by ten) and then assume it’s exactly what was happening with my own precious child… that’s on the verge of adulthood!
Unfortunately, I have too many examples of this in my parental history where I let my own past mistakes be the lens through which I viewed my teenagers and their current experience. I mean, hey! A little credit here, we are parents, we are learning how to do this as we go! As you’ve probably all heard by now, there’s no manual for parenting that gives insight to all that our teens will bring to light from our own pasts.
So, what if we as parents took the time to lay aside our own experiences? What if our teens had the opportunity to invite us into what’s present in their lives?
What would we risk?
What might we learn?
I encourage you to continue the conversation in the comments below or send me a quick email! I love to hear from you friends,