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Giving Advice to Children

193. Giving Advice to Children

I remember being an adult daughter, and having my Mother come to visit, and giving me advice—about the children, about the house, about myself. I listened but in some ways I would not listen—because I wanted to solve things myself. Because some things I wanted to do differently than she had done and I wanted to be intentional about it.

Now I am the Mother and I have four children ranging in ages from 47 to 53. And the shoe is on the other foot. AND I see things a little more from my own Mother’s perspective than I did when I was 47.

I’ve lived 79 years and I’ve learned some things. I see it now from a perspective of “Let me save you some time. Let me give you a short-cut. Let me share my wisdom.” And I’m sure those were some of my own Mother’s thoughts too. I’m sure she thought, “I want to save you from some of the mistakes I made.”

So, now I’ve come to two conclusions. One is that Mother and I taught each other all through our lives. And we did that as we worked in our relationship to push at each other—to love each other—AND to assert our respective independence.

The other conclusion I’ve reached is that sometimes in the advice-giving, I am also subtly (or not so subtly) saying, “I’m not sure you can do this on your own—let me help.” And I definitely do not want to say that. Because each of my children is bright, and capable, and able to figure things out. They are already doing extraordinary jobs, AND they can cope with any mistakes they do make, just as I did.

The relationship I want is an authentic one, where we talk, where we discuss, where we try to see each other for who we are, and where sometimes we push at each other. The message I want them to have from me is: I love you—I always have—I always will.

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