Ever find yourself in a situation where decide to do what is right, when you know it will not make you popular? I have faced this situation many times as I am sure you have too.
It takes courage to be the only parent (ever) to ring and check if the 16 year old party-parents are going to be home or even worse to not buy alcohol for your teen. It also takes courage to dissuade a friend from drinking too much, driving recklessly, spreading rumours, being dishonest or any other harmful behaviour. This week I faced this dilemma as a new chook owner.
Our new chooks Mabel and Myrtle, reminded me of how tough it can be to do the right thing and let go of being approved of or popular. Even from chickens!!
When we collected our new chooks, we were advised by Patty, the poultry breeder, to keep them in their coup for one week to get used to their surroundings and feel safe before venturing out into the world of our front garden. They did not seem to be enjoying their time cooped up in the coup. They made several escape attempts, protest pecks agains the wire and warbles of 'please let us out'.
I was tempted to let them out before the week was up, because I thought they would be happier and they would be happier with me too! I rang Patty who repeated her initial instructions, to leave them cooped up for the week to keep them safe. It was just like parenting kids, strong compassion is not always liked or appreciated. The chooks were not happy!
As parents we have a responsibility to keep our children and others safe and to set clear and fair boundaries to promote respect and responsible behaviour. In the worlds of Maria Montessori, "To let the child do as he likes when ha has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom". You can also sub in chook for child.
Such decisions do not always make us the most popular parents, friends or chook owners. And its hard not be approved of or popular with others. One of my kids once wrote a whole essay entitled 'Don't you hate it when your parents say - I am doing this for your own good!" When we rest in our intention to do our best to set clear, respectful and fair guidelines and limits to protect others from harming themselves or others we can feel good, knowing we are doing our best to promote non-harm.
So Mabel and Myrtle served their time in the coup and have graduated into the front garden during the day. They are used to their surroundings and noises and seem quite settled and happy pecking around the garden. They take themselves off to bed at dusk and are safely tucked up together in the coup for the night.
All because they know where the coup is and feel safe to venture out.
As parents too, the time comes to set our kids free. We can rest in the fact we have done our best to give them a firm foundation and the tools they need to negotiate life's ups and downs. It is time for them to learn all they need to learn and make the mistakes they need to along the way. Someone once said "a mother's job is to teach her children to not need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting that". As parents,friends and pet owners too, we can be there for support and guidance when it is needed, which may include that strong compassion that has others best interests at heart.