Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Working Toward Functionality: Give and Let Go

"2. In the Functional Family parents are mostly interested in WHAT THEY CAN OFFER THEIR CHILDREN AND PAY LESS ATTENTION TO WHAT THEIR CHILDREN WILL DO WITH WHAT THEY ARE OFFERED. Surprised to hear me say that? You will be less tense, stressed and troubled when you REALIZE THAT IS ALL YOU CAN DO ANYWAY—OFFER YOUR CHILDREN WHATEVER YOU CAN....BUT THE RESULTS OF WHAT THEY DO WITH YOUR OFFERINGS IS BEYOND YOU. Since that became clear to me—I operate differently in my family. Now, I put my thought and effort into doing my very best to offer as much love, teaching, sharing, concern, help, guidance and attention as I can to my children and grandchildren AND LEAVE WHAT THEY DO WITH IT UP TO THEM. I just offer all I can to uplift and strengthen my children—but the path they travel after that is their path to choose. I see myself as a teacher, coach, consultant, guide—and NOT as a manager who must get results. If you see yourself as the latter, you will likely try to control your children and will get worse results. IF YOU OFFER FROM YOUR HEART AND LET THEM GOVERN THEMSELVES—I think you will like the results you get even better.

"Of course, we all care a lot about what our children do with what we offer them. I care about it a lot in my own family. But I realize I can't control what my children do with what I offer them BUT I can pay a lot of attention to what I consciously try to offer them."

When I first read this, I got the wrong impression.  My first thought was that he was saying give your children everything they want.  Give to them monetarily.  What?!

After getting all the way through it, I realized that's not what he's saying at all.  MacArthur comes out and specifically states that what he gives his family is as much of his "love, teaching, sharing, concern, help, guidance and attention" as he can.  These things I can accept.

So basically, from what I understand, MacArthur is saying that you do what you can do and then allow the child his/her agency.  As parents we need to understand where we end and our children begin.

This is very much a Love & Logic principle as well.  You love the child enough to give him/her choices and you allow him/her to make mistakes so that he/she can learn from them.  The point is to let your children learn while they're young, while the "price tags are low," but you continue to love them no matter what they choose.

Bottom line:  I CANNOT control my children.  The more I try, the more frustrated I become and the more resentment we feel toward each other.  It's just a fact that the freedom to choose is an eternal principle.  It's one of the reasons we exist here.  When and if we try to revoke this privilege from someone else, we are breaking a God-given right.

Yes, life would be so much easier if we could just program everyone else to think and act like we do, but that's just not what it's all about.  When it comes down to it, my accountability ends with me, and theirs does with them.  But, I am still responsible to give the best I have, and when I do, I can be happy knowing that that's what I have done.


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