Courageous Unlearning

Kids need to grow up. So parents patiently guide and coach their children to behave in ways that honor their individuality and spirit.

Or not.

When dealing with a back-talking, ever-whining, emotion-manipulating kid, patience walks out the door and parental control walks in. When stressed to the breaking point, parents become more concerned with behavioral compliance than inspiring individuality. Few things are as parentally transformative as an errant child. When our kids express too much individuality, we are converted from a patient and loving teacher, to a jaw-clenching and over-controlling taskmaster. When this happens, instead of providing our children with the space and freedom to do things their way, we slap on a psychological straightjacket and force them to do it our way. We, as parents, above all, must be obeyed!

Parental conditioning is elemental to the process of child development. The challenge emerges, however, when children become adults and their behavior is still dictated by tense voices from the past. Adults are, after all, just grown up children…with bigger clothes, bigger sandboxes, and bigger egos. Despite our “bigness,” very often, we adults don’t think for ourselves. We think the way our parents told us to think. Or worse, forced us.

As adults, too many of us are still puppets to the past, doing what we were told forty years after we were told to do it! How many people, for example, belong to the very same religious denomination as their parents without ever questioning why? What causes that? Habituation? Loyalty? Lack of spiritual exploration? Fear of going to hell? What?

It takes courage to disentangle the hairball of your psychological make-up to pick out what is truly your own values and desires from those that were implanted there by your parents. It takes courage to claim your own beliefs outside of what you were told to believe long ago. But to not do so is dangerous. When all you say and do is just a rehash of all your parents said and did, you aren’t really a person at all. You’re just a reflection. Of the past.

The bible commands us to “honor” our mothers and our fathers. The best way to do that isn’t to live the life that they wanted you to live, but by courageously embracing the fullness of your individuality by becoming the you that you are supposed to become…independent of them.

To do that, you may have to start unlearning everything that you were told!

Go ahead, be naughty!


Courage Goes to Work

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