This morning I took my nephew to the airport, and while we were in the car, he said: “next year I am going to take an Uber to the conference instead of you taking me to and fro.” I smiled on the inside because he is growing up and learning to make decisions for himself, but they will always be my babies.
He was nervous about flying this morning, so I helped to check him in, navigating security with him, and walking him to his gate. I remember my first time traveling without my parents or siblings. It was exciting, but also it was anxiety producing as well.
It is important to encourage our youth to make their own decisions because it is necessary on this journey called life. As adults, it is essential to foster our youth to begin decision-making skills in small doses. My sister and I do not see eye to eye on everything, but I am glad that she allows each of her children to be their authentic selves and pursue their passions. I am also grateful that she allows me to be a part of their lives.
I remember my stepdad “Clem” sitting me down at 19 years old and telling me always to remain faithful to yourself. Don’t ever try to conform to society’s expectations or people expectations of you. Receiving this advice from my father was a pivotal moment in my life.
I heard him tell me “whatever you decide I am going to love and support you no matter what.” It was an opportunity for me to make decisions for myself, and regardless of my mistakes I made, my family would always love and support me.
It is essential to be faithful to self, and if I can assist my babies in any way possible, I am going to make sure I support them regardless if I understand their decisions or not. When my nephew Elijah told me about the convention and expressed his interest in attending I heard the excitement in his voice, and I wanted to do whatever I could to make it happen.
Each child is here in this life to be their self. They are not here on earth to be like me or anyone else. They are not here to be as-good-as or better-than me or their siblings, peers or the children of other family members. When we make comparisons, we are telling them they are not as good as someone else.
When you compare someone, it has the potential to undermine their motivation and make them feel a lack of their significance and authenticity. There is no comparison. You can only compare someone to themselves, and even then nobody is perfect, and we all have made mistakes in the past. As a society, we need to learn to start using compassion instead of comparing people to someone else or what we think society expectations should be.
As adults (teachers, parents, family members, or members of society) our role is to teach them what is right from wrong, but it is not our right to tell them who we think they are supposed to be. It is important to realize when you are controlling, manipulating, and pulling them away from their goals, dreams, aspirations, and natural interests.
We must allow them to explore their goals and ideas. If we show disgust or disappointment over their choices because they aren’t the choices we would have made; then this is a form of manipulation. For someone to be genuinely happy and thrive in society, we need to live lives that we love, to have a purpose on this journey.
It is unfair to manipulate or control someone because we want to live all of our unrealized dreams through our children. It is not their responsibility to make up for what we did not accomplish in life or what we are missing in our own personal and professional lives. Your passion is waiting for your courage to show up on your journey.