The Power of Your Written Unconsciousness
Week 1 Journal Entry
One goal here at OHI is to trust that my years of parenting have not been fruitless, and have the faith to just listen to my daughter instead of trying to steer the ship all the time.
Week 2 Journal Entry
Ginny lives in DC, and I miss our every day conversations, so I drop everything whenever she calls to catch up. The phone rang very late last night, so I knew it must be something urgent. I could tell from the first “Hello” that she was upset. We made idle chit chat about the weather for a minute or two, and then she finally stopped beating around the bush. “Dad,” she said, “I have a grown-up question to ask you.”
“Dad, what should I do?” asked Ginny. “Do I stick with a firm that’s in chaos? Or do I quit without another job, and throw my life into even more chaos?”
My first response was a complete Dad move. “Have you been a victim of harassment at this firm?”
“Are you still learning?”
“Is the firm’s environment different from when you first joined?”
“Yes, far more gossipy and distrustful.”
“Do you like your clients?”
“Yes, they’re the best part of my job.”
“Then you need to maintain your professional demeanor, always be positive, and rise above the gossip and backstabbing. And most of all, get pro-active about your career! Network! Network! Network! At church. On the metro. At the DC Zoo happy hour.”
“How much work do you think a puppy would be?”
“Ginny, a puppy is as much work as a baby.”
“Yeah. I know,” she sighed. “I’ve just been thinking how nice it would be to come home to a happy little Corgi after a long day at work. Something to snuggle up to on the couch while I’m eating my Chinese.”
I groaned inwardly. It’s not just a big responsibility, I thought to myself. It’s a long-term commitment. She needs to know she’ll be walking that dog three times a day in the rain for the next 15 years. Honest-to-Pete, she’s going to screw up her first real job AND a puppy at the same time. And then I’m going to end up with a neurotic Corgi sleeping on my bed for the next decade.
This was it. I needed to be heard-hearted about this. This was the moment where I needed to shift into parenting overdrive, and steer her down the road of common sense and pragmatic decision-making.
And so I bit my tongue.
Why? Because all I could think about was how much Ginny had always wanted a Corgi. All her life. And she was right. It really would be nice for her to come home to a happy little Corgi. After all the darkness she had been through since she had graduated college, a small ray of happiness wasn’t too much to ask. She had been working hard for three long years. Kept her nose to the grindstone. Saved her money. Put in the overtime.
But the barking. And the training. And the vet bills. And the dog walks at night by herself.
“Dad? Did you fall asleep?”
“No,” I said. “I was just pulling up Amazon on my laptop. Let’s see how fast Prime can get ‘Puppies for Dummies’ and ‘Dog Training 101’ to your door.”
“You really think I can do it, Dad?”
“Like I said, honey. Always be positive.”
Week 3 Journal Entry #1
I realize that I don’t want to feel like I’ve failed as a parent, so I don’t let my child fail at anything. I thought steering her toward the “wise” choice every time would model objective decision-making skills for her. In reality, taking the decision-making out of her control just made her doubt her own abilities in general. She didn’t end up learning any skills. She only learned that I didn’t have faith in her.
Week 3 Journal Entry #2 — Discover patterns from your own journaling
I didn’t have faith in my own parenting skills, so my self-doubt manifested itself in over-compensation. I micromanaged small decisions for my daughter to prove to myself what a great parent I was. But when my daughter was faced with a life-changing decision — to quit her job, to adopt a puppy — she couldn’t get off the fence and choose without making sure her choice had my seal of approval. I had paralyzed her because I was completely paralyzed with fear that I wasn’t doing a good enough job raising her. Did I teach her everything she needed to know before going out into the big, bad world? And would I miss her too much if I really do let her go out on her own?
I think I took the first step in trusting the work I put in parenting for the last 25 years by trusting that if my daughter chooses to quit her job or adopt a puppy she’ll put in the effort needed to succeed. I will relinquish control, trust her judgment, and give her support from a distance so she gains the confidence in herself that she deserves. My own self-doubt is my own problem. Not hers. I need to be more positive.