We never get good news from our youngest son. I’m not a fan of the words “always” and “never,” but I believe “never” applies here; he just does not like to share positive news. Now — if there is bad news, or somebody (including him) chose very unwisely, we’ll hear a-l-l about it. If he discovers a hole within the program he is residing in currently, he will be all over telling us how he discovered the hole in leadership, training or supervision. You name it, if he found a weak spot, we will most certainly be quickly in the loop on that!
Recently in a meeting with the director of the program to talk about our son’s progress, he asked if our boy had shared some positive news about a choice he had made not that long ago. We, of course, had heard nothing of this news, so he went on to tell me the scenario that had unfolded. It was incredibly encouraging news — a decision our boy made all by himself that would have made us so proud of him … but he never told us. I was caught between encouragement and frustration.
While we were visiting him the next week we told him we had heard of the decision he made, and that we were very proud of him for making such a healthy decision for himself. He offered a little window of insight into what was behind that decision; incredibly, it was all intrinsically motivated. He knew he was making a good decision for himself. In a group where everyone chose one thing, he chose another.
I realized that the very thing that had frustrated me — him not sharing his good decision with us — in a way, is one of the very things we are parenting to. One of my highest goals in parenting isn’t that my kids will make decisions to please me (or anyone else), I want them to learn to make decisions that are good and healthy for their own sake. There will come a time (and has come a time for our college kids) when obeying and pleasing us is not what matters. The end goal has always been that they will make wise decisions that will be beneficial to their own bodies, minds and souls — regardless of who knew or didn’t know what they did … or didn’t do.
So he never shared with us the great thing he didn’t do, that’s OK. As much as I could have benefitted from that little golden nugget, what matters most is that he made a good decision in a not very good situation. It seems I am encouraged after all.