You Can't Drive the Bus!

Hello All!

Last week I sent out this preview title to anyone who might have been interested in adding ideas...then life got in the way, and we had to help my mom-in-law with some health concerns. Now all is well, and I am going to followup with what I began to put out there last week!

In all my thinking about this parenting stuff, I keep trying to figure out what the best ideas are on how to help kids become the best they can be. How do we help influence and cajole, and ultimately create adults from the small people we are first blessed with? I heard a psychologist on the Today show in a discussion about parenting, say that "Good kids come from good parents." Well, that seems easy doesn't it? HA!

The idea of "You Can't Drive the Bus" comes from the place that I am at now as a parent. A parent of adult children. I say children because they are and always will be, (perhaps to their own displeasure:) ) my children. I do not care how old children get, they are always someone's children, even if they are 100!~

I was pondering this concept because I realize that even though I continue to strive to be the type of parent who does not mingle in my children's business too much, and I do have some success at that, that I still spend such an inordinate amount of time thinking about my kids and how they are doing and hoping that their day is going well. I don't speak to my adult kids every day, sometimes I speak to all of them in one day, and sometimes I may speak with one of the three, and sometimes I may speak to none of them. The point is, they are never far from my mind. I actually think that is a good thing, but it is also a tricky thing.

Good parents give their kids roots and wings, as I have mentioned before. I think that to do that well, we can not drive the bus. So, to my original title.

When children are little we have to be ever present in their lives. This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to have coffee with a woman I am happy to call my friend. She is the mother of 2 young children and is expecting her third. Our conversations revolve around parenting. We discuss what her kids are doing, and what she has on her mind about being their mom, and what is going on in each of our lives. She is in the throws of hands on parenting. In that stage she gets the chance to really mold her kids. I say mold, because in my mind all kids are born with a certain, shall we say, proclivity to "be." I do not know if each child is born with a a personality already, but I do think they are born with a certain temperament. Case in point, my youngest was always moving in utero...and truly has never stopped. My oldest was very specific and certain about the types of movement I experienced while carrying her, and my youngest daughter was very even and calm and easy. To a large extent their adult personalities mirror those early behaviors. Behavior that I felt as their lives began to evolve. So, I think the idea of driving the bus as a parent, is kind of an oxymoron.

We are suppose to show our children the proper ways to "be." We are to teach them the laws of civility, decorum, good manners, good values, and of course good choices. We are to model this behavior for them. We are to be present, to course correct as needed, yet through all of that, we are not to be the driver of the bus. We are to be their helpful navigators.

Being a good navigator is a tricky job! You first have to know the correct route, and that is the first test. With each and every child the route they need to take is unknown and undiscovered until they start to show you who they are, what excites them, what they love. As kids demonstrate these qualities, then it is up to us to help them figure out the best, for lack of a more exacting word, route for them. My husband and I have three grown children. Each one of them is different, and I am sure that if you have more than one child, you can say the same thing. We had to figure out how to help them find and see and then navigate the life route that seemed to be the one best designed for their personalities and desires. Sometimes the route is obvious, but I would bet that with most kids, it is often hidden within a maze of choices and interests, and behaviors, until over time, a clearer path presents. I know that one of our daughters is a cheesemonger, and as I have written before, we never had that on our radar screen as a life path for her. It does of course make sense now, after we have seen all that led up to it. But, I never predicted that when she was 5!

I think that is my point. That being a good parent requires all of us to think about the main tenet of our job. The main challenge of parenting is to help kids find who they are suppose to be. Who they are meant to become. Our job is not to drive their bus for them. Our job is to help them find their way. That can be hard. My husband shared a story with me recently about a man he met while interviewing people for a position at his company. This particular person shared the story that he was offered a chance to study at Julliard, and had loved music all his life, but at the last hour of his decision making, was advised to consider another profession, which led him to the interview with my husband, instead of pursuing what he truly loved. I wonder now as a grown man if he is happy? I do not know that our job is to make our kids happy, I of course argued in an earlier piece that I want my kids to be happy, but finding happiness.. and what makes them tick..that is probably up to them. We do not get to own that right. We can help our kids with that happiness piece though, by being good guides, and educated navigators to different points and places in life. To choices and decisions that help them become who they are meant to be. The kind of people who are truly full. Truly "baked" as I like to say. Successful, competent adults who are able to drive their own bus because we helped them design, select, and navigate the best route for them.

So, give up your drivers license. Learn how to navigate, and keep practicing until you help your kids find their routes.

Who knows, it could lead to a cheesemonger, who has introduced us to new and wonderful foods, a teacher who has shown us how to make a difference, and an aspiring filmmaker who has shown us wonderful ways of imaging and imagining. And, also don't forget along the way to show your children that you know how to be a good navigator of your own life as well! I am working on that right now! Life is a journey not a destination I have heard. Enjoy the ride, enjoy the view and don't try to drive the bus!

Until next time,