Imagine that you have just won a multi million dollar lottery. Now, what is the first thing that you think about doing with your prize money?
If you are like me, you may think about a new home or investment properties, maybe travel, new cars and maybe giving some money to a charity you believe in. Somewhere in the list of all the things, you will probably have thought about giving your children some money.
Perhaps your kids are little and you consider setting up some kind of trust account that they can access when they are older. Or maybe you’ll pay for their education. Maybe you’d like to buy them a home or a car.
I believe that none of these things will add value to our kid’s lives. I believe that the best thing a kid can learn is personal responsibility.
As a Mother, I feel compelled to spare my children from pain and anxiety. It’s like I am wired to ensure that my children’s lives are smooth and problem free.
There is a wonderful story about kids learning about Metamorphosis. When they saw the Cocoons moving and heard the creature within scratching to escape, they decided to help the developing butterfly by cutting a little hole in the cocoon and making the process easier. Instead of emerging with beautiful strong wings, the butterfly’s wings were deformed and weak.
In nature, when the butterfly struggles to emerge from the cocoon, it’s the fight that makes their wings strong.
Cocoon cutting starts early, you see your child struggling with something and feel that you need to alleviate the pain and help to solve it for them. But are you really serving them? Is it better for them to go through the solution process despite the difficulties?
When my daughter was 9 years old, there were a couple of girls at school who were basically bullying her. They had a book which they wrote hateful messages in. My daughter knew she was often the subject matter in their book and it really plagued her. She would come home from school in tears and tell me the mean things the girls were saying and often spoke about their diabolical book.
Every fibre of my being wanted to go and straighten those girls out. I wanted to march up to the school and complain to the teacher and question why he was allowing this nonsense to go on in his classroom. I wanted to phone the parents and tell them about what their daughters were doing to my sweet girl. But I didn’t. I taught my daughter a key phrase. One that she could use only when absolutely necessary. A phrase so powerful that it would stop those mean girls in their tracks. A phrase so shocking that she must only say it when the teacher was out of earshot.
That phrase? It was “Shut the fuck up”. Simple, empowering and shocking.
It changed everything for my daughter. She no longer put up with nasty comments. She stopped them in their tracks. When they continued to write in their book – she pinched it. Yes, she made the book disappear and they never knew what happened to it.
My daughter solved her own problem and became a beautiful butterfly.
My boys were a very different breed of human. My cocoon cutting for them extended to doing things for them that they were quite capable of doing themselves. From helping to finish projects on time, to making their lunch and cleaning their rooms.
But my biggest challenge was when the boys got to driving age. It was then they I worried about whether they would even survive. One of my boys continually lost his driving license (thank you Kalamunda Police, I am sure you saved my kid). I found it incredibly hard to navigate their transition into manhood.
I have recently come across some youtube clips of Celia Lashlie. Celia was New Zealand’s first female prison officer. She understood adolescent boys and she wonderfully articulated that transition to manhood and how Mothers can help to grow boys into good men. You can watch her here
Celia Lashlie wrote a book called “He’ll Be OK, Developing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men” You can access her book here
My kids have all grown into wonderful human beings and I am supremely proud of each of them. They are courageous and compassionate people who I love spending time with.
When they face adversity, as everyone does, I still fight with myself not to clip their wings. I certainly made lots and lots of mistakes as my kids grew up. There were times we seemed to be living from crisis to crisis during the teenage years. But we all survived and we can even laugh about some of the crazy things that went on.
If I could travel back in time, I would read more books, I would learn to detach, I would laugh more and worry less. And I would certainly savour every precious moment.
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