Are you choosing your parenting path?
It’s a funny thing about humans that we live in an ever-changing world and yet we desire – often deeply crave – constancy and certainty. We want to know how our days, relationships, meetings and lives are going to go. We want to know who our children will become and how they will be taken care of in the world. We want to know. And we think that, if we knew how it was all going to go, we’d be more relaxed and content. But I doubt it. Because even when something appears to be straight path, it really isn’t. Even when it looks like it's solid, it really isn’t. Life is wilder than that. Changeable, unpredictable, unfolding before our eyes every minute. And that’s good because you’re not just one thing meant for one pre-determined path. You’re wilder than that too. You are a dynamic being in a dynamic life. More like a creek cascading down the mountain, carving its path, moving stones, lifting roots, filling eddies and sometimes slowing to a trickle. Always changing. You create your life as you go, with each decision and action. You create your parenting path as you go, with each decision and action. How you create your life depends partly upon your sense of agency – the degree to which you are able to make decisions that are true to you and carry out the actions that you choose for yourself. When we are immature, we perceive that we are at the whim of forces outside ourselves – our parents, events and even Nature herself. As adults, we either let ourselves off the hook or we take responsibility for our choices and our responses to situations and people. We get to know who we are. We notice what we experience, consider what we do about that experience and recognize our power to we shape our world to give us more of the experiences we want. That is, we grow up and claim our agency. The extent to which you recognize and claim your personal agency is related to beliefs:
Your belief in your ability to make choices. When in an unsatisfactory situation, do you recognize the ways in which you are in choice? For example, if your adolescent is dishonest with you, do you recognize that you can choose how you approach them? Do you trust yourself to make that decision?
Your belief that you can meet challenges and complete tasks successfully. When things go sideways, do you know in your gut that you’ll be able to figure it out? Once you identify the steps you need to take, do you believe you're capable of doing them and achieving your goal?
Your belief in what’s possible for you. Do you believe that you can actually have/ be what you’re longing for? That you can change? Can you envision yourself in that new reality?
Your belief that you have within you the power to alter events in your life. What’s your sense of your personal power to shape and influence what happens in your life?
*This doesn’t mean believing you have the power to make anything happen in your life. Of course, the environment we’re in – the town we live in, the work that’s available, the climate, laws, economy, political situation – are all forces that act upon our choices, closing off some of the directions we want to go while also opening up other possibilities. The questions is: even when there are things which you can't control, do you recognize your choice in how you respond to these events? That’s agency. ~ Why Agency is important in parenting Agency is about being the wild stream and carving the parenting path you truly want, choice by choice, response by response. When their sense of agency is low, people believe that things are beyond their control and live in a state of self-perpetuating powerlessness. They limit themselves to the canals and aqueducts. They are unable to notice if or how their patterns of behaviour shape what happens or recognize what they might do about it. Though they may be hopeful, courageous and wise people, they can end up disappointed, silenced, self-sacrificing and resentful. Parents who develop their agency – something we can all work on – develop a clearer, broader view of their parenting journey. They see themselves flowing, tumbling, streaming over the rocks, in tune with gravity and confident in their ability to choose their direction at each turn. In the moment when they discover that their almost-adult kid spent all their savings on an old beater or an extravagant gaming system, they take in the terrain, check in with their heart, listen to their intuition and choose their next step. Not the whole plan (the terrain will change again in a moment), but the next step that feels right. Even if circumstances limit their options, they feel their power to influence the situation to the extent that they can. They have more freedom - maybe between those two rocks, under the root instead of over – possibilities quite unknown in the canal. ~ You create your parenting path as you go, with each decision and action. Lean into your gut instinct about what’s right for you. Your body will tell you the truth. And listen for the whisperings of your spirit guides cheering you on with each step you take. Remember that you are a partner in the creation of this world. Your parenting journey is never going to be solid or linear. So, join with the flow, make your next choice and be wild.
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