When some birds are domesticated, their wings are clipped so they can’t fly away. I’ve never been a fan of this practice and I’m even less of a fan when my own wings are threatened. Where am I going with this? Here’s the analogy, kids are like birds. Parents are worried that they’re going to hurt themselves with the decisions they make and sometimes, they’d rather clip their wings than let them experience the hurt.
Parents are handed this small, tiny baby that relies on them for every little thing. Their one job is to protect that baby and provide for it. Then, over time, that baby grows up and becomes an adult. It can provide for itself and make decisions that maybe the parent doesn’t agree with or thinks is dangerous, physically or emotionally. The natural instinct is to protect. There comes a time though when you have to step back and just be there in case that baby turned adult needs you. You can’t catch your baby every time because it had to go into society and sometimes, it has to fall. That baby has to learn lessons and find it’s own way in life. A way that may not look anything like your’s does.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the sentence, “kids think they know everything and parents know nothing.” I’m not going to sit here and speak for every kid because I’m sure somewhere, there’s one that feels that way, but I can say that I haven’t. I know that the experiences and words that my parents and grandparents pass on to me have immense value. They’ve seen and done things that I haven’t. That being said, I think there are scenarios where that phrase is used simply because the parents don’t agree with the decisions that the child is making. The parent also feels that the child knows nothing and they know what is best. Part of this is because when the child is a baby, the parent does know what’s best, but once that baby grows into an adult, things change. My belief is that no two people are ever in the exact same situation. No one can stand in another’s shoes completely. We have different experiences, starting from birth, that prevent us from ever fully understanding where someone else is at in life. This goes for parents and children too.
No one can stand in another’s shoes completely.
A child’s life can similarly follow a parent’s, but it will still be different. If for no other reason than the world changes constantly, and especially from generation to generation. Why else would we name the generations and examine the differences if not for change? I don’t for one second think that my parents don’t have knowledge that I lack, but I do believe it’s impossible for them to be able to stand in my shoes. They were raised by very different people than the people they are, and in a much different time. Therefore, because they can’t stand in my shoes, they can’t make my decisions for me. They can’t decide what the best path is for me. They can try, and sometimes, they may be right and I might be wrong, but I have to live with those choices. Every day, we make choices that seem insignificant but set forth certain paths. Decisions today may decide something that happens 10 years in the future, and the only control we have is that one decision. For example, you can choose to go get coffee at a different location than your normal stop and meet a guy that you later marry. That one choice altered the path of your life, and you had no idea until it happened. Decisions are serious business, and we can’t make them for anyone but ourselves. We have to answer for each choice we make and deal with the consequences it’s going to later dish out.
I say all of this to make the point that maybe sometimes we should take a step back and try to understand the shoes someone else is standing in. Parents, especially, can sometimes be convinced that a decision is wrong or that it’s going to result in harm in some way that they refuse to see that they could be wrong themselves. When I met my now husband, we rented our first apartment together just a month later. It was fast and I can’t tell you how much the people in our lives told us what a mistake we were making because that never works. The difference was that it didn’t work for them. It worked for us, and it’s still working 5 years later. That was a decision that we had to make based on where we were standing, and no one else could understand or see it because they weren’t us. They weren’t in our shoes. People make choices like this every day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all step back for a minute and recognize that we don’t know where someone else is standing? If we can recognize that we don’t know what’s best for them, but we can respect that they are likely just trying to do their best? Life is difficult enough that we don’t need to argue with each other about each of us trying to do what we think is best for ourselves. And who knows the pain or heartache that they had to go through to make that decision?
I know most of these things I’m talking about come from a place of love. I respect that, but just because something comes from a place of love, doesn’t make it healthy or beneficial. And if something comes from a place of hurt, it’s usually less healthy or beneficial.
Besides, what’s the worst that can happen if you let them fly? Like a Phoenix, they can rise from the ashes and carry on. So, I ask that you don’t clip my wings. Let me fly. Let me fall. And then watch me get back up again and carry on. I’ve got lessons to learn and love to give.
Like a Phoenix, they can rise from the ashes and carry on.