Living your life the way you want it to be enables you to live your way into the life you want. We sometimes live life on hold, waiting for the right moment to begin making changes. There is no "right moment," there is only this moment. In this moment we can make choices that bring us closer to the life we dream of living. For this to work we need to have a vision, some idea of the life we want to be living. We have to know what we want for our life in order to begin living the life we want. If I say, "In my perfect life I will get up and do yoga, and then blog while drinking hot tea," I have a blueprint for my morning. When I get up I can start doing yoga, even if it's just a few minutes, and blog, even if it's just a few sentences, while drinking hot tea. Now I'm living my dream life. I may only be living it for fifteen minutes each morning, but I am moving in the direction of living the life I want to live.
This same concept applies to parenthood. If we have a vision of the relationship we want to have with our children when they are older we can start making choices, living the life, that will bring us to that relationship years in the future. We may say, "When my child is 18 I would like for us to have a close relationship. I would like to be able to talk openly about life and social issues and choices and passions. I want to enjoy spending time together." Perhaps you picture your relationship when your child is even older. "If my child chooses to have children, it is my that hope she will welcome my involvement in their lives. When my child is an adult I would like to continue to have a close, loving, fun relationship."
When I remember to ask myself, "How will this affect my relationship with my child?" I can make decisions that strengthen our connection in each moment. Each time I make a choice that creates connection, nurtures trust, and enables us to both feel understood, I am creating the relationship we will have 20 years into the future right now, in this moment.
I have some clear hopes for the future of this family. I want my children to be comfortable in their skin and I want them to feel accepted and loved for who they are, not just for what they do. As my children grow older I want them to know that this is their home as long as they want to be here. And when they do venture off into the world, I want them to know that they will always be welcome to return and stay where ever their parents might be living at the time. It is my hope that my girls will grow up as attached and loving sisters who enjoy each other. It is also my hope that they will continue to enjoy my company and the company of their father. I want our family to continue to have fun and enjoy exploring life together, even when we are all grown up and living our own lives more separately. And in the future, if the time comes when I need a place to stay, I hope they will feel comfortable welcoming me into their homes without hesitation.
Watching the interactions of the parents and children around me can be like looking into a crystal ball. The vision of their future can be very clear. I see the connection or the disconnection and I am reminded that my choices in this moment influence the relationship I will have with my children in the future. I cannot parent with praise and punishment, and expect my child to feel my unconditional love. I cannot require my children to grow up to be the person I want them to be, and expect them to feel comfortable being authentic around me when they are an adult. I cannot parent using the withdrawal of attention, approval, love or my presence, and expect my child to trust that I will be there for them no matter what. If I choose to parent through manipulation and control I should not be shocked when my teenager feels the need to separate from me to be her own person, or to hang out with friends who like her just the way she is. If I do not treat my child with respect it should come as no surprise that she does not treat me with respect.
My interactions with my children each day, my attitude towards them as they pass through the many stages of life, my ability to choose to act from a place of connection, respect, trust and unconditional love in each moment determines the relationship we will have 10 years from now. Because I have a vision for our relationship I am looking forward to our future together. I think about how amazing it will be when there are three teenage girls living in this house!
What kind of relationship do you want with your children when they are teens? What do you want it to be like when they are 40? How do you want them to relate to you when you are 80? Is it time to create a positive vision for your future together?