Ever since I’ve had my daughter I have been praying a prayer of release. I love her dearly, but I also realize she’s mine, but not mine all at the same time. I want to keep her from danger and be the one to make her squeal with delight, yet at the same time I know I need to be releasing her to “be Marley.” That is, she will be in danger, she will face disappointment, she will form her own desires for her life, and she will leave our home.
This prayer, “God, help me release,” is so simple but it’s so powerful. And even though she is only an infant, I figured I should start practicing now. This prayer of release has been my constant prayer over the past few months. It always amazes me how things come to us that all relate to the same lesson we are learning. I recently listened to a talk by Shefali Tsabary. She’s the author of “The Awakened Family.” After listening to the talk the book is now at the top of my wish list.
Much of what she said is something I’ve been writing about in my quiet mornings, or even discussing with clients. We place our expectations on our kids if we are not moving through parenting with awareness. I often hear parents say they are stressed, anxious, and really not enjoying the role they’ve been gifted. Why? Because we are wounded and unaware. We can’t loosen our grip on our children and remove expectations if we are not aware of the expectations we are placing on them. We also can’t even parent the child unless we have been parented. What do I mean by that? Many think because we reach a certain age we are now adults. Age-wise, that might be true. But so many of us act from child-like, undeveloped places. When we do that, the places we have not been parented we now place on our children. Often times when I see this playing out in the therapy room I say, “What would the 6 year old "you" need? What would you need to hear?” Whatever it is, whatever the need is or the message is, we can heal the place that has not been met in the past by giving it to ourselves now as an adult. It's a way of self-parenting, even years down the road. If it’s a task such as “I never got to speak up with what I needed”, tell the 6 year old you and then start doing it. If it’s “my wants were never important”, then start identifying what brings you alive and find the courage to make choices that fit you, not anyone else.
You see, if we allow fear to rule this relationship we will try to control everything and every outcome. The spiritual life, the life of faith, is to recognize that we really are not in control of anything, is it not? We must realize that the cultural trend has been to raise our children in a state of enmeshment. We lose focus on what is us and what is them. But they are not us, and we are not them. They are their own unique being with their own desires and wants and dreams. It will do them well if we check ourselves and let them “just be.”