Lately, I've been thinking about parenting. Let me be honest. I'm a parent to one young adult son, so when am I not thinking about parenting? Recently though, after a conversation I had with some friends on how to get our kids to do what we want them to do, I've been thinking about what the role of being a parent really is.
Coincidently (though I don't really believe there is anything coincidental in life), I was watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday this past weekend and there was mention of an upcoming guest named, Shefali Tsabary. Dr. Tsabary is a a Ph.D. and a clinical psychologist and the author of The Conscious Parent. Full disclosure, I haven't read the book, but I did read this article in the The Huffington Post about disciplining our kids and why it doesn't work. Essentially, what the Dr. says is that when we say, "I want to discipline my kid" it means we want to learn how to control or manipulate them into doing something we want them to do - because, we of course, know what's best for them. Right? But truth be told, being a parent is about guiding a child and teaching them how to create a sense of self-discipline in themselves. So when our child gets into a bind and we aren't there to give them the answers, they can find the resources within themselves to make good choices.
So why is this on my mind? Well, as I've said, I have a son, who is a filmmaker and he/we have just endured one hell of a long semester as he put together (wrote, directed, casted, edited, produced and did special effects) a short film for his fiction class. And when I say hell. It has been HELL. To see your child struggle to essentially take a seed of an idea and communicate it into a massive vision is tough. To not be able to do anything FOR him or to CONTROL the process for him in order to make things easier, is really, really hard for a parent.
But the other reason this has been on my mind is because of my own creative process. What I'm realizing is that there is no real control in the process of creation, as there is no real control in the process of parenting. All we can do as creators of creative work and of children is to do the work and have faith. For the answers do not lie within us, the parents of the creative work, but within the creation itself. As we take the idea we start with, our stories develop and grow with our nurturance. But too much control will kill the creation. Just as the child with the helicopter parent doesn't get a chance to make decisions for themselves. Of course sometimes there are detours. But if faith and belief prevail, amazing things can happen.
Back to my son... We are closing in on Finals Week and I just received his final edited movie in my inbox. OMG! He's done it! Were there bumps in the road along the way? You better believe it. Was there ever a time when he thought it wouldn't come together? Sure. Was there ever a time when I thought about the money we were spending on his tuition and how that money could be used for a down payment on a condo for him? You betcha. But now that I see the finished product, those thoughts no longer carry any weight. My son did the work of a real artist. He took that little seed of an idea that he had and with hard work, dedication, and belief in himself, he grew that little seed into a work of art that reflects his truth.
Parenting a child or parenting a story. Both require self-discipline, faith and massive amounts of patients. And no matter how we try to steer or control our way out of them, bumps are just part of the process.