Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

I Know You Meant Well…

That’s what someone said to me recently after I had offered some advice that turned out to be not very helpful. At the time I offered it, I was quite sure it was very helpful, confident that I knew exactly what the person I was giving it to needed to do.

But much to my surprise (why should this still surprise me?!), I didn’t know as much as I thought. And I certainly did not know what was best for the person I was attempting to influence.

How did I stumble into this illusion of omniscience yet again? Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the person I was advising was one of my kids. And to make this clear, all of my kids are adults, old enough to chart their own course, old enough for me to know better than to step over the healthy boundary between parent and adult child.

While I’m moderately skilled at being a good listener and not trying to “fix” the issues that friends and other family members share with me, apparently with my kids, I need a few more practice sessions.

So thank you, my dear adult child, for being gentle and loving in reminding me to step back.

You know not their paths
It is not yours to know
Yours is to have faith
Only that

14 thoughts on “I Know You Meant Well…”

  1. I have been (falsely, I am sure) accused of being a know-it-all. So, although it is a challenge, I do assume a laissez-faire position with my two adult children regarding offering advice. During the past decade I preface my comments to them with, "Please understand that this is only my opinion (random thought, feeling)…IT NOT ADVICE." Then I ask, "Does that (opinion, random thought, feeling) make sense?" Rarely have they responded, "Yeah, now what should I do?" Yes, Galen, this does seem cowardly.

  2. I laughed about the know-it-all accusation. As you say, surely false! Kids are so different, aren't they? What I say to one kid just rolls right past. What I say to a different one, even with all the disclaimers you listed, is heard as a directive. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, CD.

  3. You are blessed, and a reflection on you, that your child responded so kindly. Most would end up not speaking to you for X years or something just as hurtful.

  4. Oh my sweet friend, I have done this more than once and I know exactly how you feel. I think as a parent we always want to fix things. I too have had to learn to back off and just pray for them and hope they make the right choice. I really feel that being the parent to adult children is actually harder than when they are younger.
    Thanks for this one; I smiled!
    Blessings and hugs!

  5. It's a mix, isn't it, LeAnn? There are things much easier–we are liberated from the day to day care, for example, but we also have less control and their choices have big consequences. This was a lesson that I have for the most part learned, but still I fell right into it this time! Thanks for your understanding and friendship.

  6. So easy to do Galen, listening leading to advice. I tried some Samaritan training (decided not to volunteer in the end, too restrictive for me) where advice was forbidden and we had to learn in practice sessions not to give it, we weren't even allowed to say we understood, for similar reasons. But it is so hard! because there is a natural urge to try to solve the 'problem'. And in the counselling world it's the same with the training in that there's more power and self esteem if someone figures out what to do for themselves. Lovely post and much food for thought!

  7. Thanks, Lynne. I have done training, too, which has for the most part impressed upon me the truth of what you describe. And yet, even knowing what I know, and doing moderately well with it in other contexts, I fell right into that advice habit again. Kids provide so many opportunities to practice life's wisdom lessons!!!

  8. I concur with LeAnn – being the parent of an adult child is harder than when they were younger. Just when I think I've learned, I fall right back into the hole again! It's like the Kenny Rogers' The Gambler song – knowing when to hold them and when to fold them. I rely on this meditation – I release you from my anxiety and concern. I let go of my possessive hold on you. I am willing to free you to live your life according to your best light and understanding. Again, some days are diamond, some days not so much.

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