My sons are Boy Scouts. Actually, I am proud to say, my oldest just became an Eagle Scout. One of the scout principles is, “Leave no trace.” They are taught how to minimize damage to an area when camping and basically, how to leave everything as they found it.
When I heard this principle recently, I instantly connected it to the raising of my children. Everything we do affects their future. How they will treat other people. How they will treat their significant other. How they will react in a crisis. What they will believe in and not believe in. I began to wonder, how much of ourselves should we instill into our children?
As my children grow, I see more and more of myself and their father in them. My oldest has taken on my hypochondriac tendencies. He also shares some of my OCD behavior as well. All of my children tend to lean towards their father’s religious views. One of my twins is a very independent thinker like myself. He also shares my need for perfectionism. Thankfully, they are all very affectionate like myself. Some of their tendencies are biological, some are not. Of course, I wish they never took on my negative traits; however, that aside, I think as parents we want them to be little mini mes. Our egos want to feel like we will live on in someone else. More importantly, our ego wants someone to believe as we believe, because we think we are right.
As a child, I felt forced to believe in Christianity. I was forced to sit at the table and speak in tongues in front of everyone. It was traumatizing. I had to listen to sermons that made me feel like a bad person if I sinned, or if I didn’t tithe. I certainly do not want to get into a religious debate here, as that is not my point (Please no comments in regards to that.). My point is that I was forced to believe a certain way. I don’t want to force any belief on my children. I want to show them everything and allow them to make a choice that feels “right” for them.
My father was told as a young boy, “You can be a FBI agent, or a garbage man. It’s your choice.” It wasn’t really a choice. He was going to work for the FBI like his father and that was that. And so he did. He spent the majority of his life doing a job he never really enjoyed, just to please his father. I used to try to gently sway my children into a career path that I felt would be good for them, until I realized, who the hell am I to direct anyone’s career path? I’m still figuring it out myself! I had my chance. I decided to let them trace their own path.
I truly want my children to be so much more than me. I want them to live without fear of failure. I want my children to decide what religion to believe in, or not to believe in. I will also not push them to be more than me. Maybe that is not their path. I will love them no matter the path they take or the person they come to be. I don’t want to judge them because that is putting my mark on them. That is me trying to control them. And even though I really dislike my son’s blue hair. I will learn to live it!
This is a tiny food for thought on a very broad subject. My intention to anyone who reads this is to encourage thinking, just a little bit more, on how much of us we want to leave behind.
4 thoughts on “Leave no trace behind?”
This really resonated with me right now as my children reached the controversial ages of 13 and 15. I realize I don’t want to impose my traits on them – making them into a “mini me” is egotistical. I want them to develop their own interests and preferences with a sense of freedom and confidence. I also agree I don’t want them to fear failure – we get some of our greatest lessons from falling flat on our faces.
This was excellent. My kids are older and I loved your metaphor here. Likening our kid’s spirit to a forest. How many times do we leave a forest with signs that we have been there? An old charred area where the fire had been, trash we accidentally or lazily forgot. However I do pray that I’ve planted some strong seeds along their way that instead of making them feel guilty about exploring their own way, makes them remember their roots and want to consider what I taught them.
it has been a learning experience being a mom of adult children. Watching them soar on their own while learning to let go. I guessthat ssaying about giving roots and wings is a work in progress. 😉