Episode 122: Your Children’s ChoicesSep 02, 2021
Our children have as much agency as we do, which means that they have the unlimited power to decide their own life experiences. We are powerless in terms of their choices and that is by divine design. They get to choose and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
This only becomes a problem for us when we think that our children might choose wrong or that their choices might create suffering for them. But none of this is actually a problem and in today’s podcast episode I’ll show you why.
We don’t get any say in what choices our children make, but we get all the say in how we choose to think about those choices. The objective is not to change their choices, but to manage our minds about those choices. That is always in our power—and it is the key to having the loving relationships we want with our children.
Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thought you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome.
Hello, podcast universe! Welcome to Episode 122 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price, and I want to welcome you to the podcast today, and give you a little PSA. Something that I think everybody should know is that you are under no obligation to believe any thought you are thinking right now, okay? So, I sometimes I think we forget that, right? We sort of feel like, well, this is what I think, and it's true. So, obviously, I have to keep thinking it. And I just want you to know that your thoughts, of course, are going to feel true. The reason that they feel true is because thoughts automatically generate feelings in our body. When we think them, they create feelings in our body. And so, that sort of like emotional response makes us feel like, well, then it therefore it must be true because I've had an emotional response to this thought, it must be true.
The other reason that thoughts often seem true is that remember that our reality is always shaped by our thoughts. So, of course, all the evidence you look around at in your life is proving your thoughts, true. But that's not because the thought is true. It's because you've thought the thought, and that has created all the evidence, right? Like thinking the thought itself is the thing creating the truth, and the validity of what you are thinking, okay? So, your reality is just reflecting the choice that you are making to think right back at you, okay? So, either way, it doesn't matter, okay? Because I want you to know that even if it is true, it doesn't matter.
What matters is to ask yourself, is it serving me, like is it helping me to get what I want to continue to think this way? If it's not, then you want to question that thought, okay? Is what I'm thinking, getting me what I want? That is the sole question you need to be asking. Does it matter if it's true or not? Doesn't matter if it's right or wrong. Does it matter if everybody agrees with it? Literally, it doesn't matter. What matters is thinking, is this getting me what I want? And if it is not, I invite you to think something else, okay? That one idea will change your whole life. And if you want help with that, of course, I want to invite you to a coaching call.
A lot of you have listened to this podcast. You have thought about coaching. You've thought about like, I think you're on board, right? Like you're like, I get it. My thoughts are creating my results, but I don't know how to change it. And I can help you do that. Get on a call with me, and I can show you how to change your thinking, how to change your thoughts, how to reframe the story, how to tell the story differently so that you can start getting different results in your life. I would love to be able to help you with that. So, you can sign up for a free call at my website, aprilpricecoaching.com and I would love to help you out, okay?
So, today I want to talk specifically to those of you who are parents, and specifically to talk to you about your children's choices, about their agency, and then how we as parents manage our minds around our children's choices, okay? Because they do have agency and it's up to us to be able to figure out how we want to think about the ways that they are using their agency. And I will say that even if you aren't parents, this is a really good episode for anybody that cares about somebody else, right? And thinks that like you have a better idea about how they should live their life. You could be a spouse and could be, you know, even you thinking about your own parents, and how they should be doing it differently, okay? So, this applies to anybody who's dealing with humans that make choices, but I'm going to use all the examples in parenting and in thinking about the relationship between us and our children and specifically our children's choices, okay?
Alright, because I want you to remember, like at the outset, the premise of this episode is that we do not get to make our children's choices. I know that's disappointing, right.? But they are the ones that get to make those choices. But we get to decide how we think about our children's choices, okay? We don't get to make the choices, but we get to choose how we think about those choices. And that choice, what we choose, not what they choose, but what we choose to think about their choices, is what has the biggest impact on our relationship with them, okay?
So, for example, my daughter was in high school, she was angry and sad for a lot of reasons, okay? And I was really upset by this. Like I wanted her to be happy. I thought she should be happy. I thought she had no reason to be sad, and sad, and mad, and angry at me all the time. Like I felt like I had provided a good life, I had done my best to provide her the things that she needed. To love her, to teach her to support her, and yet she was always sad, and always angry. And I just was like, I did not love this choice that she was making, right? She was choosing through her thoughts to feel sad, to feel angry, to feel all the feelings that she was feeling. Now, she might not have been totally aware of this choice, probably at that time, it felt like everything was happening to her, and she just was sad. And she just, you know, was upset, was angry. But in fact, she was making a choice. And I was constantly disagreeing with that choice. I was like, no, let's choose happy, right? Let's choose cheerful. Let's choose helpful. These are better choices, right?
And I was constantly arguing with her choice. And me not liking her choice created so much tension in the relationship, right? She could sense that I did not approve of her choices, and she felt my disapproval all the time, and was always in reaction to that. So, when I got coached on this, my coach said she's supposed to be sad, right? She's supposed to be angry. And when I could make peace with that, and stop saying like you shouldn't be making this choice, you should be making another one, and when I just made peace with like, of course, she should choose. She has the right to choose. She can choose any experience of her life that she wants. She is supposed to choose the one she's choosing. I got to so much peace in the relationship, it was like the tension just immediately left our relationship, and I was like stunned, right? I thought that entire time that the pain in the relationship, the conflict in the relationship was because of her choices. But it wasn't. It was because of my choice to disapprove of her choice.
And our relationship changed so dramatically and improved so much. And what I want you to know is that nothing changed at all except the way that I thought about her choice. That was the only thing that had to change in order to improve the relationship, how I thought about her choice, what I chose to think about her choice, okay? So, this was like a really powerful example, and it made me reconsider a lot of the choices that my children make, and be able to get to peace with that. And they made a ton of progress in all of my relationships. But recently, I had another experience with things that reminded me that like, oh, yeah, I have a brain. And sometimes, like, I forget to manage it and it like starts to take over, and it can like affect the relationships again.
So, this is kind of a funny story, but I think it will apply, and we're going to take it apart. And I want to show you how my brain was disapproving of my son's choices, and how that was creating, like a lot of negative emotion for me. And it was, you know, affecting the relationship. So, recently my son has this darling girlfriend. She's been at Utah State with him this summer. She had an internship, but normally she goes to school in the Midwest, okay? So, summer is ending, and she needs to drive back to the Midwest, and he agrees to go on this drive with her, you know, 24 hours back to Michigan so that like she doesn't have to drive alone, right? And so he's telling me about this decision to this choice, right? To go on this trip. And he's like, awesome, totally sounds great, right? And I was like, where are you going to stop along the way? And he's like, oh, we're not going to stop. We're going to drive straight through. We're just going to drive for 24 hours. And I was like, oh. My brain is like, wait a minute, I'm not sure about this choice, right?
And he's like, it'll be fine, her family does it all the time, it's not a problem. Now, my son does not have a great track record of staying awake, right? One time he was driving from Logan to the Salt Lake Airport, which is like an hour, an hour and a half. And he was driving at about seven or eight o'clock in the morning, and he fell asleep. And he was the one driving, an hour away he fell sleep and crashed his car into the median of the freeway. This is like a terrifying experience as a parent. You're just like, he calls, you know, I was like scared for many days after that, just thinking about how badly he could have been hurt, and what could have gone wrong, right? So, when he's telling me that, like, I'm going to drive through the middle of Iowa in the middle of the night, I'm like, okay? My brain is sending up red flags, right? And so, I've just noticed that like the closer he gets to leaving on this trip, the more worried I was getting about it, right? And the more I like kind of try to talk to him and just say like, you know, you got to be really careful. You got to be really careful. You got to pull over. If you get tired, you got to pull over. You got to rest, right?
Anyway, this is like going on and on, and finally it came to a head. And yesterday I texted him and like, hey, dad is willing to pay for two hotel rooms, right? And and you can stop, and sleep for six hours, then get back on the road and go, and it would be no big deal, right? And he's kind of texting back and forth with me. And I finally kind of realized what I was doing, right? I finally kind of realized that I was trying to, like, change his choice so that I could feel better, right? And so, I texted him back and I'm like, I just want you to know that, like I'd like to change the C, so that I don't have to manage my T's. So, this is kind of a coaching term, like a coaching joke, and he's at the life coach school, so he knows these terms. But C stands for circumstance, right? And T stands for thoughts.
So, I was like texting him, saying, like, I'd really like to change these circumstances like this decision, right? So, that I don't have to manage my thoughts. So, it's like, could you change the circumstance so that I don't have to manage my thoughts, right? And he, like, sent a laughing face, but he texted me back and he said, it's weird to hear you a little worried because you haven't done that in a long time. And I realized like he was right. I haven't worried about my children's choices for a long time. But here when he said that, I just sort of noticed, like, oh, I see what is happening here. I see what my brain is doing, okay?
And I think it's really instructive for all of us to kind of look at what my brain was doing, because as parents, we are going to have this experience often. Our children are going to make choices and our brain is going to want to create worry about that. It's going to want to create fear. It's going to want to want to change their choices so that we can feel better so that we have an easier time managing our thoughts, okay? And so, I just want you to kind of like see what happened here. First of all, my son made a choice, which is his right. He gets to choose his life. He gets to choose his experience. He gets to choose where he drives, when, for how long, right? And when he makes that choice, then my brain goes to work interpreting, and translating, and making meaning out of that choice. And my brain, given what it already knows about Caleb, okay? Gives me what it knows about like driving a cross-country.
We have driven to Michigan because that's where my husband's from. We have driven there so many times and we always break it up. We always stay somewhere, right? Because it takes us like a good 18 to 24 hours to get there. And we always break it up. So, like I have all this information, right? And so, then my brain goes to work, creating meaning out of my son's decision. And in this case, creating all kinds of disaster scenarios, right? Like my brain was like picturing him like falling asleep, and like killing her, or hurting her, or injuring himself, or like, you know, like doing damage that couldn't be undone, running into somebody else's car and, you know, affecting their life. And my brain was just like, oh, no, no, no, no. Like, I have to prevent this, right?
But notice what's really happening here. My brain is worried about a bad outcome, a bad outcome for my son, for his girlfriend, for other people on the road. Like it is very worried about these bad outcomes because ultimately it doesn't want him to suffer, right? It doesn't want to experience the pain that I will experience if he experiences pain. And this is true for all of our brains. Whatever choice your child is trying to make right now that you're like in opposition to like your brain, is like, well, I don't want you to suffer because your suffering will make me feel bad. I will have pain watching your pain, right? And so, my brain went to work trying to solve this. And really, if you look at it, what my brain was trying to do was trying to control the circumstances, control the decision, right? Control the choices my son was making so that I could ensure his happiness, right? Or his safety, or ensure his outcomes. And at the same time, that would ensure my own emotional well-being, like if I can ensure your positive outcomes, then I can ensure my positive feelings. Okay, that's how it works.
But what this really does is it creates tension in the relationship, right? My son can feel my disapproval. He's like, what's up here? I don't understand this, right? And and I don't want to have these feelings either towards my son, right? Like I want to. Like allow him to have the experiences that he wants, allow him to choose, and allow him to learn, right? But that requires me not being able to control the outcomes. And as parents, admittedly, that is a scary thing. So, as parents, we sort of think like we need our children to choose and then behave in a way so that we can feel good, so that we can feel safe, so that we can feel like everything's going to be okay, right? But when we need someone else to behave so that we can feel good, it doesn't feel good to either of us. It doesn't feel good to your child, and it doesn't feel good to you because like you're on pins, and needles, needing them to behave so that you can feel good. You've given all of your emotional well-being to them, and their choices, which is a burden they don't need. And they can feel that burden. They can feel the subtle manipulation of you needing them to be something else or choose something else so that you can feel okay. And they don't want to carry that either.
So, all of this boils down to the fact that we get worried about our children's choices when we think their lives are going to be less than in some way less ideal, right? Or least different than what we considered to be like the best outcome. Like, if it's going to be less good than it could be, we think that they're going to suffer in some way, and feel bad. Then we want to change that. We want to step in, and we want to change those choices. So, I want to give you a few things to think about when it comes to your children's choices, right? To not to change their choices, right? Because those are their right. You actually have no power at all to make their choices for them, right? So the objective is not to change their choices, but to manage our minds about those choices, and decide what we are going to think about those choices. That is where your power is. We are completely powerless in terms of their choices, and that is by design. They are here to have their own life experience, not the one that you want for them, okay?
So, I want to give you five things to think about when it comes to their choices. The first one is they get to choose. Now, I know that seems obvious and simple, but there is so much power in recognizing that. In fact, this is the case, right? And that, in fact, this is actually a good thing. This is a positive thing. They have an unalterable, undeniable right to choose their experience. And no matter what you do, no matter what you try to change, you never get to intervene there. They get to choose, period. Right? And when I really understand that, and I really respect that, they get to choose, and they get to create their own life experience, it really creates so much freedom for me as their parent, along with the fact that they get to choose. I want you to know that they also get to choose what they think of you, and how they treat you. We have so many thoughts as parents that are all about like how they shouldn't disrespect us, how they shouldn't treat us the way that they do, but that is truly their right to choose. They get to decide how they want to experience us. We create so much pain for ourselves when we tell the story that they should love us, they should respect us like they should do whatever they're doing because they get to choose. What really has to happen is we have to respect, and love their right to choose.
And so, then this leads easily into the next thought that I want to give you, is that your children are supposed to suffer. And I know I know that that is bad news. But hear me out. So, a lot of times when we're like, no, I don't want them to have the right to choose. I don't want them to make the choice they're making because I don't want them to suffer, right? That's always the argument when it comes down to wanting to control our children's choices. And we think we know what would be best for them. But I promise you that you are wrong about that. Their life is supposed to be 50/50. It's supposed to contain heartache. It's supposed to contain negative emotion. And it is not our job to prevent that for them. Their learning will come through those choices, through the painful parts. And that is a necessary part of their Earth-life experience.
So, there's this song that I heard the other day by Rascal Flatts. And in the song it says, "My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small. You never need to carry more than you can hold." And I'm like, yeah, I get that, right? Like as a parent, I can relate to that. May your dreams stay big and your worries stay small, but this is not the way of it. This is not why our children came to Earth, they didn't come like to have it easy to like not have to carry more than they can hold. They came to grow, and to get stronger. And suffering is part of that. And nothing has gone wrong because they suffer.
My daughter is, like I told you probably a hundred times by now, is serving a mission in Iowa. And in January my Arizona girl does not know how to walk on ice, but she fell on the ice and she hit her head really bad, and she got a concussion. And she was at a difficult time in her mission, right? She had been transferred, she was training a new missionary, and she had this concussion, which like really limited her physical capacity, and, you know, created a lot of pain. And she was just really, really suffering, and I remember just being so heartbroken for her, and wanting to change it so badly. And I remember it was Sunday, I went to church, and I was fasting and praying for her, praying that like this concussion could be healed, and that her suffering could be eased, and it could be a little bit easier for her. And like I remember, I said the words in my mind, like, please ease her suffering so that she can, like, accomplish her mission. And I had these words come into my mind that said, this is her mission. Like her suffering is the mission.
And that is true for your children as well. Like we don't want to just come down here and just like have this like, you know, fairyland vacation, magical, mystical, like holiday, right? This is the mission. The suffering is the mission. The learning that's going to happen here in that is why they came. And I know like we have an idea of like how it should go without any suffering, but it was never supposed to be that way. And every week when my daughter calls me, her concussion is healed, and she's like moving on in her mission. But like every week she calls me and almost every week she's crying, right? Because it's hard in a different way. And she's like, I'm the happiest I've ever been, and I love my mission, and also it's hard. And I'm like, yes, exactly right. And all the time in my mind, I'm saying the words, it is not my job to fix this. It is not my job to fix this. And that can be so powerful for you as a parent to recognize. In fact, my children are supposed to suffer some of their choices will create suffering, and we are not supposed to fix that. We are supposed to mourn with them, and cry with them, and love them, have compassion for them. But it is not our job to fix it. They are supposed to suffer.
Okay, the third thing that I want to tell you is they are not here to choose the right. I'm telling you, I know that sounds blasphemous, but they are not here to choose the right. They are here to learn to choose the right. They are here for the education. They are here to learn to choose the right. And to do that, a lot of times we have to choose the wrong. That is how I am learning. I choose wrong again, and again, and again. Every day my brain presents the choices, and a lot of times I choose wrong. And that is how I am learning. And it is no different for my children. Choosing wrong enables the learning. So, you've probably heard me compare our Earth-life experience to like a curriculum, to like your class schedule, right? And we have this idea that our class schedule is going to like just contain all these really fun classes, right? Especially for our children.
We're like, you should have the class are like perfect spouse 101, right? And you should have the class of like easy pregnancies, and you should have the class about like financial freedom, and abundance, right? And we just like imagine that they're going to have this like life experience, like they're going to be you know, they'll have like popularity 303. Like getting through junior high without bullying. And we just imagine all these like amazing classes as they hand that baby to us. We're just like, oh, this baby is going to have an amazing life, with no sorrow, and no trouble, and and lots of friends, and lots of money, and lots of success and lots of joy and lots of love. And this is how we imagined it. We imagine a class schedule that's just full of like fun electives.
But the truth is, like we are not in charge of their class schedule, right? Like there are certain classes that they are signed up for because that's how God designed it. And there are certain classes that they will sign themselves up for because of the choices they make. And there are certain classes that other people are going to enroll them in because of their choices. But whatever their curriculum or class schedule looks like, it is the one they were supposed to get. You are 100% wrong about their ideal curriculum, I can promise you that you have no idea the things that they came to learn, the classes that they're enrolled in.
So, I just want to like offer to you that if you understand that they are just here to learn that we don't have to panic, that they're in the wrong class, or that they've made a choice that has enrolled them in the wrong class. I think about God as my parent, right? God never thinks that I should have chosen anything other than what I have chosen, right? He knows that every choice I have made is essential to my learning. And he is not worried about any of them. He knows that it is all for me, i is all useful to me, even the difficult things that I signed myself up for. Like he knows that is an essential part of my learning. It is useful. It is helping me become in all the ways I am supposed to become. And he doesn't try to change that for me. So, I want to offer you that you can think about your children's choices in the same way they are here on Earth for an education.
The next thing that I want you to think about is that your children are responsible for their own results. Now, as parents especially, this like gets really difficult for us to wrap our mind around, right? Because it is our job to teach them, and to love them. But we start just like as we live with them, and as we watch them grow, and as we watch them make choices, we sort of start to think it's part of our responsibility to make sure they get the results we think they should have. And this is never your responsibility, right? Every result in our life is created by our thoughts, the thoughts we choose to think, your feelings that creates and then the actions we take from that. That is what creates our results. And it is no different for your children. Their results will be created by their thoughts, whatever thoughts they choose to think will create feelings, will produce actions, and they will generate results in their life. And in no part of that do you have any say, yes, you have influence and yes, you can teach, but you are not responsible for what they learn. That is 100% up to them. They get to choose. And it is so painful to take any credit for their results, either positive or negative. Whatever they have created for themselves in their life, that is up to them. And this like one shift to allow them to like have responsibility for their results and to love them regardless of what those are will improve your relationship more than any other thing.
And that brings me to the very last thing that I want to offer you, and that is the idea that they can't do it wrong. And I know already that that almost sounds like blasphemy when you hear me say it like all the time. Our concern as parents is like, but what if they do it wrong, or what if I do it wrong, and then they do it wrong, because I did it wrong, right? And I just want you to know that doing it wrong is not a thing, because we are here to learn. And you cannot do that wrong. Every decision they make, every choice they make, every result that creates in their life, like painful, or otherwise desirable or not, it cannot ever be wrong unless we think it is wrong. It is a judgment call. And who are we to say we can't possibly know what their life should look like? That is entirely their business. And the only other one that gets a say in that is God. The real work that we came to do as parents was to learn to love. Learn to love, regardless of our children's choices, regardless of the results. We came to learn to exercise our muscle, to love our capacity, to love, our skill, to love.
And I believe we are put in the exact families that we need with the exact children, the exact parents, so that we can exercise that skill, and to learn to love. We don't need them to make certain choices. We just have to make the choice to love. So, I have a really good friend who has a child that was born in a body that was assigned female at birth. And since then, he has recognized that, in fact, he's a boy and that and he wants to be called by he/him pronouns. And my friend is just like so dedicated, and committed to choosing love, choosing love for her son, and helping him meet the challenges of life in this body. And, you know, she talked to me about like well, like I'm just afraid that I might be doing this wrong, that like, you know, maybe he's doing it wrong, maybe I'm doing it wrong. And and I said, how is loving your son ever wrong? How is loving your son ever messing things up, like how is it wrong to be there for him as he experiences the challenges of Earth-life to love him, and support him as he is? I don't think you ever have to tell yourself that your children are doing it wrong. And I don't think you have to ever tell yourself you are doing wrong by loving them.
Now, let me be clear. I am not saying that my friend's son is choosing to be transgender, but I use the example of her fears, and doubts about love to show you how our brains do this, how they worry that love isn't right. And when our kids are making choices and we believe that it's possible that they could get it wrong or that we could get it wrong by loving them, it holds us back from feeling love and having the relationships we want. And you aren't ever wrong for choosing to feel love for them no matter what. The only thing that God really asks us to do is love. And I want to offer you that the whole point of the role of being a parent is not to make sure they turn out okay and not to make sure that like their results are okay, and that they don't suffer. The whole point is to make sure that, like you turn out okay. So, that like the whole point is your becoming. The whole point is that you learn the skills of love. It is all about you, and your choices, not theirs. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome! I love you for listening. And I'll see you next week.
Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. If you want to take the things I've talked about and apply them in your life so that you can love your Earth-life experience. Sign up for a free coaching session at aprilpricecoaching.com. This is where the real magic happens and your life starts to change forever. As your coach, I'll show you that believing your life is 100% awesome is totally available to every single one of us. The way things are, is not the way they have to be, and that my friends is 100% awesome!
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