One of the greatest gifts you can offer your kids is to let them lead. So often, adults think they know what's best for kids. Adults lead activities, discussion groups, social gatherings in the way they think will be most meaningful and edifying for kids.
The response is often (quite often!) skepticism, glazed expressions, and disinterest. But when kids are given the 'pulpit', they exhibit enthusiasm, creativity, and a knowing of exactly what it is that will be most satisfying to them and their peers. What a surprise that they should know what they want and need!
My kids and I belong to a spiritual community that gathers teens in the western region of the United States 2 times a year for a weekend retreat. The weekends are meticulously planned, organized and presented by representative teens that have been elected by the youth the preceding year. As an adult sponsor I have had the privilege of attending these gatherings joining with the other adults as the support team, and I can tell you they are the most meaningful retreats I have ever attended!
What a priceless gift is given to those teens who are given the opportunity to develop leadership skills. What a priceless gift is given to those teens who attend and are served by their peers who really 'get' them. Who better than other teens will know precisely what they want and need?
So too, we can look for occasions in the lives of our families to step out of the way of our kids and let them lead. The wisdom that will be revealed will take your breath away!
I experienced in a very powerful way just how marvelous, inspiring, and heartwarming this can be, to let them lead...
A number of years ago, I felt somewhat begrudging heading into the Eve of New Year. My kids had invited friends over and it looked like I would be doing more to 'hostess' this party than I thought I signed up for. I was putting together a lot of the meal.
My 17-year-old had initiated this party and had done a lot to prepare for his friends. When they arrived I was preparing to just be available for a minor support role. However, he switched from 'man-in-charge' to 'teenager hangin' with friends'!
As time went on, it became apparent that if dinner was to happen it looked like I better move from supporting role to 'make it happen' role.
I certainly was not inclined to call them in from having a blast on the trampoline. I also concluded that the younger set and their friends would be more in need of dinner being served at a reasonable hour. So step up I did.
When dinner was served I was bowled over by surprise as my 17 year old spontaneously led the blessing.
Later in the evening, we all participated in a year-closing ceremony. Because I was chaperoning this evening I was unable to attend a bowl-burning ceremony at our spiritual center.
Thus my one request for events scheduled was that we have a similar type ceremony ourselves with one stipulation: I felt guided to let them lead.
From the nine-year-olds to the 17-year-olds, we all filled out 3 x 5 index cards with what we wished to release from the previous year. It was remarkable when a solemn atmosphere settled in where loud laughter and shrieks had reigned supreme moments before. These kids were so sincere in their soul-searching.
From previous get-togethers, in other family situations, I had grown familiar with the rolled eyes from the younger generation when requested by the old-folks to make something significant (sometimes participating in the eye-rolling myself)! I am quite certain this is what allowed the kids to take it seriously - it was not imposed on them by the elders. Sure, the request had been made, but then it was turned over to be youth-led.
Anyways, after the lists were complete, a huge bonfire was built out front on our property with everyone contributing an addition of fuel- cardboard, lumber, oak logs... It was blazing. Then we were instructed to put our list on the fire when the timing felt right.
Again, the kids did not dismiss the significance of the symbolic act of letting go for the year ending. Each reverently stood quietly until ready to place their offering in the flames.
Then one of the teenagers asked if we could do 'fuzzies'. Everyone agreed, so I learned about 'fuzzies': each one went to every other person, faced them, held hands, gazed in each others' eyes, held each other in a hug for 3 deep breaths, held hands momentarily then saluted each other with a bow and 'namaste' while holding each others' eyes. It was rich. I am feeling the emotion even now as I write this.
But it wasn't over yet...still led by the youth around the campfire we made rain sounds (ask me if you want to know!), sang the bear hug song, ending with everyone standing on one side of the fire arm-in-arm, singing spiritual songs as we rocked gently back and forth.
I was so grateful, felt so blessed, and was soooo over my begrudgement.
I encourage you to give your kids a chance and let them lead. And don't be surprised when you are richly rewarded. Namasté!
Site updated 02-03-17