There are many times as a parent when I really want to make a point to my children. As they are growing older they very often want to make a point to me. Sometimes it feels like we’re in a battle to see whose point can out do the other persons point! I came across this quote recently, I can’t remember where – ‘it’s not about making a point, but making a difference’ and it made me think about why do we feel the need to be the person in the right all the time?
Being an adoptive parent can be frustrating at times, being any type of parent is I’m sure. When we went through the adoption process we were told that it was parenting plus – that means you get the normal challenges of parenting but with additional issues to cope with due to their past. The two questions that I ask myself almost daily are “Am I making a difference to my children?” and “Are they any better off with us then where they were before?”.
Knowing if we are making a difference to our children can be hard to realise sometimes. When you are going over the same points again and again, struggling with the same behaviours and seeing them pull away from you when they should be leaning on you for support can be very demoralising. As our children approach the full-on teenage years there are many points that seem important to be made by us to them and them to us. One I have all the time from my daughter and her friends is how tall they are growing – that they are taller than me (not hard to do) which seems to be very important to them. One of the points I always find myself trying to make is that I am the parent and they are the child! Why is that so important to me to make sure they know I am in charge? Is that making a difference to our relationship and them actually feeling safe enough with me to let me be their Mum?
I know as I ponder this question more this week I will be noticing the times when me making a point seems more important than making a difference to their lives. Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and let them have their say, so that they can feel heard and seen. It’s such a surreal relationship – the adopter and adoptee, especially if you adopted older children. The need to be in control and be the person in charge is a constant battle and one where there are no winners actually. If I get my point across, which lets them know I’m boss, without any attunement in our relationship then it’s all for nothing – it’s just being a dictator.
I remember when I was in management in business years ago studying a book called ‘Developing the Leader within you’ by John Maxwell. A brilliant leadership book and whilst I was thinking about management at that time, now as a parent and a leader in my home I come back to it all the more. There’s a section in the book where the author talks about the five levels of leadership and why people follow you. The first level is Position – people follow you because they have to. As a parent we feel that sometimes – that the children HAVE to obey us as we are the parent. Level two is Permission – people follow you because they want to – this is when you are having fun together. Level three is Production – people follow you because of what you have done for the organisation (or family). Level four is People Development – people follow you because of what you have done for them. The final level of leadership is Personhood – people follow you because of who you are and what you represent – this for me speaks of where I would like to be as a Mum to my kids. What Mum represents for them has not been good – when they think of Mum it doesn’t bring positive, inspiring thoughts to their minds but disappointment and anxiety. Now I have a chance to make a difference to them in this area. Whether they follow me because the have to or because of who I am varies daily and hourly sometimes. But I have to keep in mind always that it’s about making a difference to them and not making sure my point is accepted by them at whatever cost.