This week, I woke up each morning to countless pictures on Facebook of kids going off to college. So cute as they set up their dorms and ventured off into the next step of the adult world. It left me thinking, what about the kids who chose not to go to college?
Where are their pictures?
Where is their send off?
Where is their "atta boy"?
What does it take for us as parent's to step out of the proverbial college box?
My best friend and I sat talking with my 14 year old son. He was asking questions about college, and I was answering them in the most cryptic, yet complete way I could. I always have a little fear around these conversations. I notice my body tenses up and my brain begins furiously looking for the right words that will simultaneously portray college as hard work, fun, and not an option... a must.
Why do I do this?
I know that society has funneled us into this money grab that we call college.
I know that statistics don't look great for employment after college.
I know that college isn't right for everyone, and we must allow our children to pave their own path.
My friend later brought the topic up when we were alone. "You are trying to talk him into going to college aren't you"? I responded "no... I want him to do what makes him happy... at least I think so."
THAT is at my core. I want my children to be happy, regardless of what that looks like.
Regardless of what society thinks of it.
Regardless of what his friends are doing.
Regardless of what will make the most money.
This is what is in my heart.
My heart screams, do whatever makes you whole son. Travel, play, learn and BE whoever you want to be for a moment in time, because society does their best to take that from us from the minute we come out of the womb. Live! Be free! Call into work and get fired a time or two. Eat Ramen for two weeks straight, and put $2 into your gas tank. Listen to people... really listen. Hear their stories, and their plights. Learn what makes people tick and how their childhoods differed from yours. Invite everyone into your light, and then learn who you need to escort out. Decide what your boundaries are with toxic people and learn to lay them respectfully, not concerned with how the other person feels about them.
Take this time son.
Reflect on what makes your heart scream with joy.
Reflect on what your values are when no one is watching.
Determine what drives you and what makes you weep.
Stand back and watch how this game works, then choose in what area you will create change.
I want to create change makers, not game players.
My mind... now that is a different story. My mind has judgment thoughts that swirl around up there. My mind is acutely aware of what could happen if he doesn't go to college.
My mind feeds on fear, if left unchecked.
Fear says, what direction will he follow if he doesn't go to college?
Fear says, he might not "live up to his potential" if he doesn't go to college.
Fear says, I am highly educated, people might expect for my kids to be as well.
Fear says, how will that judgement feel?
Fear says, what will that judgment look like?
Fear says, if he doesn't go to college, will he end up in my basement long term, with a Mountain Dew, one hand down his pants and the other playing x-box???
Fear says... what exactly will I post on Facebook to reflect my kid is launching too (it must have equal parts being at peace with his decision and indignant belief in his path)?
Fear is insecure. Fear does not access rational mind. Fear doesn't care what you think of her... she only cares about ruling your decisions and actions.
Fear is passionate and she starts a storm that is hard to gain control over. Fear starts with physical symptoms, but if you aren't trained to notice the warnings, then fear travels to your thoughts. There she sets up a perfect roadway for travel, called a neural pathway. Fear travels up and down that road, happily invading your thoughts. Happily circling around and around until you can't think of much else. Then fear, if left unmanaged, causes behaviors that we wouldn't rationally choose. Fear is rooted firmly in emotional mind.
When we react from emotional mind, we leave ourselves open to regret.
What if... we accessed wise mind? What if we chose not to participate with those fear thoughts. We noticed them, but we knew they weren't all accurate, so we didn't jump in that boat. What if we chose a different thought?
Wise mind means not being attached to an outcome.
When you take the time to recognize your thoughts, and feelings, you are taking the time to access wise mind. Accessing wise mind means combining your heart with your rational thoughts (only the rational ones please).
Letting go of a predetermined outcome for your child is essential to their growth as a human.
Not being attached to an outcome for your child frees them to grow into exactly who they were supposed to be.
Not being attached to an outcome, does not mean a lack of expectations for responsibility and choices.
Not being attached to an outcome, requires trust in the job you have done as a parent.
Not being attached to an outcome, requires trust in that human you've been guiding for 18 years.
Not being attached to an outcome, frees your child to confide in you and leaves the door open for more much needed guidance.
Not being attached to an outcome is a gift to you and to your child.
In the end, all of my reflecting over the last week has led me to this. The only outcome I am attached to is happiness. Wholeness. At peace with who they are and who they are growing into. At peace with the job I have done and will continue to do.
I am attached to the outcome of unconditional love and acceptance. If that happens to mean college, I will support them through and through. If that happens to mean moving to Hollywood to pursue their dreams... well then, they better have a pull out couch, because I am there...right beside them, every step of the way.
Let's do this.
To join the conversation, connect with Kerry Foreman on Get Grounded on Facebook. @groundedone, read her blog at www.groundedblog.com, or subscribe to her YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwmP82NX6ddydYfzPBFTkHQ