As well meaning adults, we often face this dilemma of “wanting” to give the best to our family, work mates, friends and at the same time, “wanting” them to become independent. Self imposed no doubt but isn’t it part of our society culture that we simply embrace? Nothing wrong with the proposition but I do worry about how this translates into dependency. For example, as parents/grandparents, our first reaction when a child learns to walk is to use the words, “be careful, watch out for the bumps,” or to peers at work, “I don’t think this is the way to do it, let me help you sort it out.” To friends, who exercise some decisions, “How silly, that was a stupid mistake you could have avoided!” Of course we say this with all the right intentions: to help, protect and share our experience perhaps and largely to avoid our loved ones from getting hurt. All good upto this point. But here’s a thought
Sometimes, this may extend itself to a pattern. If you are constantly being told “don’t”, as a human being, it is an automatic reaction to either tune off, or let the person lead the process, simply because you don’t want to get into a debate, and this is where the problem begins. Educators have been speaking about how children need to learn from mistakes, face up to consequences, challenge themselves, and find their calling. And this can only happen, if we allow them the “space” and “freedom” to do this. Yes, a child may fall, perhaps cry a little and learn to get back up, so the next time this happens, his/her mind is already prepared and it is less painful. As a parent, it may be upsetting for you to watch, but what you have allowed your child is the moment of independence to work it out. At work place, for a moment think if you could have told your peer, “That is one way to look at it, I however would have done it this way but why don’t you try it your way and in case you are stuck, let’s figure out a solution.”
Quite possible that this will lead to little hiccups, but weigh the pros and cons of creating empowerment for your team mate as well. Perhaps to a friend you would say, “Well you took the decision basis of your circumstances and feelings. Next time take a few minutes to mull over it, may be consult someone?” It deeply upsets you because your friend is hurt and upset and you love your friend dearly but do consider the shift from being supportive and not only protective and the opportunities it can create for those around us! Being independent and creating empowerment are words easier said than done. As parents of a pre-teen, this topic becomes extremely important as I am sure it does for others as we are trying our level best to take a step back and not be over protective. Like I said, easier said than done, but it is about being consistent, accepting some battles will be lost to win a war, and some decisions will cause pain. It is easier for children to experience and learn from mistakes in their childhood than to grow up as adults and not have a chance to undo… and from where we are today, many adults simply have not had the chance to learn, and it may be too late for some to change. Personally for me, it isn’t too late to adopt these strategies in other situations …it is all about the mindset.
Depends if you have the stomach for it!