Family, Self

What To Do When Your Kids Do Things They Reaaaaally Shouldn't

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Your Children's Bad Choices Are Not About You!

Last year, there came a day in my parenting that shifted everything. It ripped me out of my safe little bubble, made me question my career, brought all those old doubts and fear of failure back to the surface, and made me question my very ability to raise my own children.

That was the day I found out that my only-just nine-year-old daughter had started smoking.

"How could this be happening?” I wondered. And more importantly, "How could this be happening to me?! What did I do wrong?! How can I possibly be giving advice to other people on child rearing when this is what is going on in my own home?!"

I panicked. My heart was pounding. I couldn't sleep for days.

And then I spoke to a trusted friend and her response snapped me out of my little drama: "Well I'm so pleased this is happening to you," she said with the utmost kindness. "Because now you can tell the rest of us what to do!"

With a few deep meaningful breaths, I brought myself back towards myself and started to ask some more useful questions, like: "If I was my own client, what would I say to me?"

And the first thing I’d say is: "This is not about you."

How often do our children go through something and instead of responding to their need, we make it all about us, about our own fear and pride and needs and worries?

And when we do that, we divorce ourselves from the moment and from our real children. We extrapolate out to some fearful future with some imaginary child who has become a druggy and a delinquent and has embarrassed us and ruined our career.

The solution is never out there somewhere.

The solution is here in this moment. The more we bring ourselves out of our heads and back into our hearts, back into the moment that we are trying to run from, the closer we come to the solution. And that always lies in connecting with the real live child in front of us.

The solution is never in punishing or panicking, but in connecting, deeply and without judgments of either them or ourselves.

These challenges are not there to hurt us but to bring us more deeply into connection — with ourselves, with our children, and with life. These challenges are there to help us to grow, to help us to love, and to help us to embrace our humanity.

In stopping the judgment of her, of myself, and of the moment, I was able to see the truth behind the drama. And the truth was that this was not about me. It wasn't about my parenting skills, my coaching ability, or my need to look good.

It was yet another beautiful lesson from life, teaching me again about the power of my presence, about the power of being in any moment and loving it regardless of what form it takes. It is about loving my child and myself, deeply and without question or judgment.

And from that place of pure connection, all problems resolve themselves. When we truly see ourselves and our children and we allow our humanity to seep through the social masks, we know what is needed at any moment and we respond appropriately.

It is not about you. It is not even about your children. It is about life presenting itself in millions of beautiful ways to see how present you can be with its infinite variety, how peaceful you can be with the changing scenery, and how connected you can be with yourself and with the children who have come to raise you.

My daughter didn't need my clever solutions. She needed my presence.


The next time you are faced with a challenge and you want to run a mile, stop and go more deeply into the moment.

In that moment, I wanted to cry and scream and move to Australia. For a few days, I didn't even tell her I knew about it because I didn't know what to say: "I'm sorry I'm a failure as a mother. I'm sorry I didn't protect you from big bad life. I'm sorry that I was so unaware of what was happening with you."

Actually, the appropriate thing to say in all moments is: "Thank you. I love you!"

That is the only appropriate response to life, the only adequate prayer. It is all good. It is all meaningful. It is all happening to deepen your journey, to connect you with the depths of your humanity, and to help you to embrace your children as whole beings with infinite scope, breadth, and depth.

Every moment happens to reflect the infinity within you. Breathe into the experience instead of running from it. Draw it in. Feel the pain and the terror and the discomfort fully.

The wholeness of life doesn't lie only in the pleasant moments when our lives and our children are conforming to our expectations. Life lies also in the shadows and the cobwebs and the nightmares.

It is only when we embrace the wholeness of life that we can embrace the wholeness of ourselves and then we can truly see our children for the blessings that they are. In all moments, in all states.

This is not about me. Not about the small me with its ego and perfection and control. This is about the greater me. The me that encompasses the whole. The me that is us. And in that moment when the little me ceases to exist, what remains is pure connection. And therein lie all solutions, because none are needed.

Mia Von Scha is a Transformational Parenting Coach. For assistance in mindful, present moment parenting, contact Mia or join her mailing list.

This article was originally published at Transformational Parenting. Reprinted with permission from the author.