Today I’m going to talk about needing something versus wanting something. This was a huge shift in my parenting approach, especially when Devon was a teenager. Someone explained to me the difference between needing Devon to do something versus wanting him to do something.
EMT Class or “Normal College”
When this first really presented a great opportunity to practice it, was he had finished high school early and was living at home. He was under 18 and he wanted to sign up for an EMT course at the college instead of just taking normal college classes. And I wanted him to take more normal college classes because I was worried he was going to lose his momentum.
And then maybe just quit school and go and be an EMT. And I had this need for him to be in normal school because we had let him finish high school early with the intention that he would do college, like normal college.
And I had this need or expectation for him to do it a certain way. That’s when someone taught me this very powerful thought of need versus want.
It’s OK for you to WANT that, but not NEED it.
They said, “It’s okay for you to want him to do that. Of course, you want him to take these normal college classes so that he’s having a normal education like his peers are doing, just in a different location, and that’s okay to want that. But it gets really tricky and is not as effective when you need him to do that. Needing him to do it has a very different energy.”
And it was much more like I was trying to take away his agency.
I made that shift to “Well, I want him to do this, but I don’t need him to take those classes”
Shifting that allowed me to be open to have more healthy conversations with him about what was going on. I could hear his point of view and allow him to make some choices.
And he did end up taking the EMT class and he actually did end up leaving school. He actually went to one more semester and then he left school and became an EMT and worked for four years as an EMT and had really great experience doing that and a really great learning experience,
I was able to really be okay with that because I did not need him to be a traditional college graduate.
I wanted that for him, but I didn’t need it.
I think that allowed space for him to grow and to learn in his own timing.
He’s 25 now and recently on his own, he has chosen to go back to school and he recently told me, “Mom, I’m really glad I did it my way. I’m glad I had these years working. I’m glad that I’ve had all these experiences and it put me in this place where now I want it.”
And that is amazing and is much more effective and efficient too. For his growth and me mothering him.
If your children are younger.
This can be a little bit challenging, but it can still work.
If I serve dinner to my children, I obviously want them to eat vegetables.
But if I need them to eat them, it sets us up for a power struggle.
Now, I’m not against having some basic rules like, try one bite of everything.
Just try playing with the idea,
“Do I need this, or do I want this?”
Just making that subtle shift can make a huge difference in your relationship with your child and in your interactions with them.
Give it a try this week.