There is something very dangerous that happens when we decide to go about on our own way simply for the desire to do it our own way. There definitely are moments where it is time to throw off the shackles of oppression and do things that are correct in a higher calling kind of way. It’s important to follow a dream, strike off on a new path, take the road less traveled. But when the only purpose of that road is to get exactly what we want - then we have accomplished nothing. Maybe the only thing that we can do that is worse than that is when we encourage our children to do the same thing.
Our kids from the moment they come out of the womb will want what is coming to them. They will cry for it, whine for it, demand it, fight us for it. (I don’t mean at every moment of the day of course. I have four of the most amazing young people in the world living in my house and I can tell you that we are all learning to live together in community every day) It is up to us to point out, to direct them to the things that are really worth fighting for. In their teen years they will come to us with their perceived great injustice. Sometimes they will be right and the tyrant will be us (me) and we will recognize our humanity and change our own perspective. Occasionally it will be a teacher, a boss, a coach and it will be our job to help determine if it truly is an injustice, a false truth, that is worth helping them in how to properly bring change to something that is not working the best way that it could. But just as likely it will be an error on our child’s part that we can help bring a life-long lesson to. If we are the brave strong parents that we hope to be, we will show how and where we disagree with them. We will explain how we agree with the teacher, the boss, the coach and describe to them how we agree that the best thing for them, for their class, their team is to listen, to change, to do the thing that feels harder and more personally unjust because they are not the only person in their community.
There are others, living together in community, (whether that community is a classroom, a team, a city) that need their connection, not their disruption. The greatest danger is when we as parents (and I include myself in this) decide that it is better to give my child whatever she/he wants rather than consider what it might do their small community, their school, their grade, their class, their team. The best thing when we don’t get our way is not to take our toys, go home and just start our own game. It’s to figure out what or whom it is we are having such a problem with and fix that thing, or at least fix our attitude towards that thing. If we haven’t taught our child how to navigate that, then I don’t think there are many useful tools that we have given them.