Being a parent creates incredible opportunities for spiritual growth sometimes. I discovered that my middle schooler did not turn in an important assignment yesterday. This meant that his grade plummeted along with his credibility. I can’t remember how many times I asked if he did his homework last week, only to hear, “yes, I didn’t have much.”
It makes me think what a fine line exists between controlling others in an unhealthy way and nurturing others with guidance. We get results by focusing our attention on the positive things around us, not on the negative ones. For example, if you have a plant that is ailing, if you focus on the one part of the plant that is well, and nurture that, sometimes the rest of the plant will thrive. If you spray chemicals on the sick part and ignore the healthy part, you will likely end up with a dead plant.
The same is true of running and yoga, for me. Whenever I focus on what I cannot do, I end up defeated. When I put my attention into minute gains and small achievements, I become healthier. This is how I finished my half marathon–just by checking in with myself at every few miles with the question, “do I have more?” It was an incremental process.
It is hard to overcome an all-or-nothing mentality when pursuing personal goals. It is truly misguided to have an all-or-nothing mentality when nurturing the growth of a child. My son–not unlike a plant with some vigorous shoots–has a beautiful passion for learning, an infectious joy for life, and tons of creative energy. And he also has some unbalanced, asymmetrical growth in the area of organization. I don’t want to spray poison on that weak spot, but rather nurture what is vigorous and be patient that the organization will come.
Can I focus my positive energy this way? Yes. Can I get away from all-or-nothing thinking in my personal, spiritual goals? Definitely. And maybe, just maybe, can I avoid overreacting to my son’s irresponsible behavior? Can I watch him achieve small, incremental goals that will slowly build up his organizational stamina?
That is my intent!