I recently had a conversation with someone about the ridiculous rules our parents imposed on us in childhood. I recalled my ten-year-old-self squirming at the table with a glass of warm milk. The family dog couldn’t help me, as he had with the chunks of beef I would pass him when parental eyes averted. So I sat, while the rest of the family abandoned the table for an evening of television.
Fast forward to my own years as a parent of young children. There I was, examining my newly clipped recipe while stuffing a spinach and cheese mixture into over-sized shells in a baking dish. Ah, the family meal, an unfailing flop. It happened every evening around 6. How did it always look so lovely in my mind, from the moment I saw our next meal in the latest issue of some fancy mom magazine? Why did I always forget that little boys loathe adult foods, and could always be counted on to spill something, drop something, or spew something out of some orifice at the exact moment when my fork met my mouth.
Let Go of Old Rules
I’m not sure when I finally withdrew the archaic mom rule I’d learned in my youth: like it or not, you’ll eat what I cook! I suppose I finally got tired of all the pointless meal prep, finding myself at the table in angry-mom mode, and watching cold heaps of food get tossed in the trash.
One day I just woke up, slapped peanut butter on bread, and served it with a side of carrot sticks. No more fish faces at the table. No more stern warnings, post-meal exhaustion, or mommy frustration. I ate what I liked, they ate what they liked. And that just worked for us.
I had some friends who criticized, saying kids shouldn’t decide, but I stuck to my rules. Because menu be damned, no one should be forced to consume foods they hate. No one. I wanted my kids to be confident in their choices, and unafraid of expressing their likes and dislikes.
That made sense to me. That was my new rule. And with it, I instilled many others. I realized I had adopted rules that didn’t resonate with me. I was culturally correct (at least in my mom circles), but incredibly unhappy with my choices.
Are You Thinking For Yourself?
This post is not about parenting. It’s not a rant against rules, or a jab at my mom. It is about mindfulness, self-examination, and taking a moment to investigate the things we do daily to understand why we’re doing them. This post is about thinking like a boss (yeah, buddy!), being authentic, and living your yogic life.
In a previous post, I talked about giving yourself permission to be who you are. If I think about it now, it made sense that I was following other parents’ rules. As a newly married mom in my teens, I was insecure about parenting. I had all the books by Spock and every expert in the field telling me which way to wean and which diapers to use. I began following every rule in robot fashion, forgetting that I could actually think for myself and decide what worked for my family.
Forget the Flow
If you’ve been going with the flow, letting popular ideas and practices lead you down a path that doesn’t feel authentic, stop! Assess your own needs, and ask yourself this vital question:
Will this choice create happiness for me?
Mantra: I refuse to trade authenticity for approval.