Me, controlling? Definitely not true. I am one of the most non-controlling people I know. Able to let others (my children and husband) make decisions unhindered by any interference on my part.
Children need—oh, excuse me for a moment . . . "Brandon, honey, have you done your homework? And that math test on Friday. Have you started studying for it? Please don't roll your eyes at me, Mr. Fifth Grader. And stand up straight. Slouching will ruin your posture."
Sorry about that. As I was saying, children need the freedom to make mistakes and learn from natural consequences without our interference.
Amazingly enough, it is our interference and oftentimes lengthy parental lectures that keep them from getting the very lesson we want their young brains to absorb—hold on a second, "Morgan, if you keep pulling that cat's tail she's going to scratch you. You need to leave her alone—oh, see I told you. If you'd listened to Mommy, you wouldn't have gotten that scratch."
Anyway, the more we micro-manage people—especially our children—the less they'll learn to think for themselves. And if we do all the thinking for them when they're young, it's their friends they'll let do the thinking for them when they're older.
I don't know about you, but I don't want some hormonal teenage boy doing the thinking for my daughter. If he—oh, could you hang on again? "Tyra, you're not going to wear that shirt, are you? The yellow one would look much better. I'll help you find it just as soon as I'm done with this blog. And please zip your coat up when you leave. What, you're not cold? Well, it's frigid out and I want you to wear your hat and gloves too. I don't care if you're sixteen, young lady."
Sheesh, kids! Sometimes you have to wonder if they’re ever going to take their brains out for a test drive. At any rate, the best way to raise children to become healthy, responsible adults is to allow them the freedom to grow by flexing and stretching their choice muscles (within the context of healthy loving boundaries, of course).
The freedom to make mistakes and live with the fallout of those mistakes, without the parental “I told you so,” will enable them to start choosing wisely. It will help them learn to say “yes” to the good and “no” to the bad.
And goodness knows how badly we want them to say no to the bad. So take a deep breath and practice nodding and smiling (you may need to do this in front of a mirror) for those moments when your teenage son says he'll study later, or when your daughter wants to wear that ridiculously ugly shirt again.
In case you're wondering, this was a greatly exaggerated peek into the life of my daily parenting (well, mostly exaggerated—I don't have a sixteen-year-old yet). And the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
If you're looking for an excellent resource to help you peel your fingers off the control center of your children's lives, check out Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It'll knock your socks off. It did mine.