Each summer our kids offer a neighborhood kids camp. It’s a lot of work. They plan daily activities and crafts, we shop together, prepare supplies, and then open the doors for a whole lot of summer chaos and fun. My kids love it and look forward to it every year. And, every year I get to learn the same lesson over and over again.
Despite my inner commitment to let our kids fully own the experience, it’s easy for me to step in. I begin small by trying to control the chaos and mess, and I’m pretty good at it! But then, I start seeing more areas for improvement or efficiency so I start to help more. Unfortunately, something else happens too. I unwittingly send the message that despite their great efforts, they are not enough. My kids step back, the excitement in their eyes diminishes and suddenly I am dragging them along trying to get them to help more. I end up exhausted, frustrated and wonder why I even agreed to this plan in the first place.
Then I remember, some years sooner than others, “Oh ya! This is not my camp. It’s Cox Kids Summer Camp—run by the Cox kids; not this Cox mom! They have been taught, we’ve practiced, and they are ready for this. So I slam on the brakes and regroup. I shift to the role of advisor and support/safety crew. I step back and get to watch the magic happen.
The kids step into their leadership role and take ownership in the project again. As they realize that someone better run the show, my pleas for help disappear and they are up and moving: organizing, giving directions, interacting with their campers, finding creative solutions, leading games, and creating learning experiences for everyone. Including me.
I get to humbly experience my children in a new light as they grow more fully and become the wonderful beings they are. Fun, full of life, messy, and creative kids with big hearts who love their campers! And who get to practice cleaning up! This hard work experience connects us. I believe when we prepare our children and create opportunities for them to practice sharing ownership, we instill trust and promote growth. It’s a beautiful connection to invite.
What areas in your family need a little less you and a little more kids this week? Pick one—just a small one. Make sure it’s age appropriate! Then, spend some time teaching, practicing, and getting ready to take a step back. Bit by bit, the pieces will come together as you give the gift of becoming.
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