As parents, we have to make many decisions on our children’s behalf. Some decisions come easily – it seems obvious what to do and we make them with confidence. But there are also a lot of decisions we angst over. As much as we try, we’re painfully aware that we can’t always anticipate what the ramifications of a decision might be for our children or how they might feel about it. There are times when we think “I just don’t know what to do!” I find that I start spinning in circles of indecision, getting myself quite wound up & anxious.
Here are just a few of the decisions that I’ve struggled with since having children –
whether to accept pain relief in labour.
when to start trying for baby number 2.
whether my son should go up to Year 2 in school or have longer in Year 1 (having to make this decision is a quirk of the New Zealand school system).
whether to get my son minor surgery for appearance, not medical reasons.
and, every year, what to get my boys for Christmas (something they’ll love for more than 5 minutes that won’t just become more junk around the house).
WHEN WE DON’T KNOW WHICH DECISION TO MAKE
More recently, my husband and I have been talking about possibly moving house. As you know, there are so many factors to take into consideration when deciding whether to move and where to move to, such as proximity of family and access to schools – it can be quite overwhelming. For many weeks, I felt paralysed, unable to make a decision because I couldn’t figure out what would be best for my boys.
One evening in bed, I realised I hadn’t prayed over it, I’d been waiting for the answer to become clear without really asking for it. So I briefly outlined my dilemma for God (He knew all the details anyway) and the answer came straight away – There’s no right or wrong, you just have to commit to whichever decision you make and make the most of it.
It hadn’t really occurred to me that there’s not always a right choice or a best choice. But, when I heard The Universe’s reply, I was reminded of a time when I was going through a rough patch in my twenties and I had to decide what to do next. I would listen to Susan Jeffers’Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway whenever I went anywhere in my car to give myself a boost of confidence (it was a cassette tape!). Susan spoke of tasting all the “goodies” along the path we choose. Along one path, there might be blueberries and, along the other, there might be strawberries – either way, we can pick and enjoy the berries that line our path. Back then, I thought that sounded lovely but really there was a right decision in every case. Fifteen years later, though, I understood what The Universe was telling me.
Still, when I first got my answer about moving house, I rolled my eyes at God and said, “very wise, but I still don’t know what to do!” But I tried not to be frustrated and instead to trust & be open to all the possibilities before us, focussing on the joys (the berries) each option offered.
Then, shortly afterwards, some new information came to light and my husband & I realised that we need to sit tight for now and review the move in a year’s time. There was our decision – for now. And I feel good about it.
As my spiritual connection grows, it’s that feeling of peace that I look for when making a decision. The pros and cons contribute to the process but, ultimately, I’m looking for what feels right. And that requires me to put my fear aside so that I can sense Love’s wisdom.
THERE’S NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF
I think it’s often fear that keeps us stuck when making decisions. When it comes to my boys, I fear that they will miss out on something great or, conversely, suffer in some way if I make a poor decision. When deciding what to do, I tend to catastrophise, looking for everything that could go wrong.
What if, instead, like Susan, we looked for everything that could go right? Perhaps that would make our decisions easier to make and help us to trust that all paths have the potential to be great. Making decisions from a place of joyful possibility seems more empowering than making decisions designed to avoid the worst.
And if we make a decision that, as the consequences reveal themselves, we discover isn’t right for our children, we can view that discovery as a particularly sweet, juicy berry along the path. We haven’t made a “mistake” or taken the “wrong path”, because it led us to more knowledge. We can use that knowledge going forward and make another decision to take us somewhere else. Most decisions aren’t as fixed & irreversible as fear would have us believe. Sometimes we just have to get on, make a decision and feel it on for size, knowing we can course-correct if needed.
IN SUMMARY – EAT THE BERRIES
When we are feeling anxious over a decision we have to make for our children, perhaps it’s an indication that we need to let go of our fears. have a little faith and learn to feel our way. I know now that I can trust that, when the answer isn’t clear, it’s probably a case of “can’t go wrong” and an opportunity to relax, let things unfold and eat some scones with mixed berry jam – yum!
We promised to love our children and do our best by them. We never promised that their journey through childhood would be seamless, a paved-with-glitter direct route to a happy adulthood. But we can all enjoy eating as many berries as possible on the way.
I have a treasured memory of a visit with friends in England many years ago. We went blackberry picking along the meandering lanes of the English countryside. I had no idea where we were but the company was great and the berries were good. Now, I can imagine my family on that path, faces and fingers stained with various shades of red, purple and blue, grinning widely.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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