How Can I Help

Originally posted January 2019

I’m so absolutely thrilled to share today’s Wednesday story!! Reva Cook is an amazing therapist whose office is in Lindon, Utah. You can click the link at the end of this story for all her info! I found Reva on Instagram. I absolutely LOVED her self-care advent she did in December. She is spot on when it comes to knowing how mothers feel as we try to do this mothering thing. She is funny and witty and I love her Monday Memes on IG. I highly encourage you to follow her on IG, and if you are looking for a therapist, I believe she would be excellent. On her website you’ll also find many helpful articles and books to help with many subjects from raising kids to helping with your marriage to learning to think more positively about yourself and your life. I hope you will be able to relate to Reva’s story today. I know I sure do!

“Our poor oldest children. They sometimes are the victims of our learning curve as parents. One of the hardest and most helpful lessons for me to learn was realizing that the best way to create a well-rounded, successful adult was to give up my idea of how it needed to be done.

My oldest son felt the weight of my mothering intensity with his extracurricular activities. I believed messages I got that good parenting involved having your kids in lots of activities and pushing them when they didn’t want to do things. I had heard and believed that parents know best, and that children will not do things unless their parents force them. Kids might hate it, but in the end, they would appreciate it.

I had visions of my son one day saying “Thank you mom for forcing me to do swim and piano and scouts. I’m so glad my mother pushed me.” I’d heard stories of that happening, although I didn’t ever know anyone personally that happened to, but it sounded nice- right? It made it seem like the fights would be worth it.

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If my son ever did like a new activity, I would take any spark of interest and run with it. More classes, more practice, more, more, MORE. I didn’t listen to him when he said that he didn’t like me doing this, because I believed that I knew more than he did. And oh, that vision of him testifying in gratitude about being pushed played in my head. If he didn’t like an activity, I was sure he just hadn’t tried hard enough. Surely, he’d like it if he got good enough at it.

So my reaction was more classes, more practices, more training, more, more, MORE. He’d protest, he’d complain, he’d cry even sometimes. But I knew best. Mom’s know best. And he’d thank me one day, right? I saw Chase’s unhappiness, his resistance and my feelings of frustrations as further evidence that I needed to stay the course and keep pushing. I kept doing the same things and hoping I’d get different results- which is one sure way to make yourself feel crazy. It strained our relationship. He started to develop anxiety and depression in junior high, and while I don’t believe this issue was solely the cause, it certainly didn’t help. I also learned years later that it contributed to him feeling like he wasn’t a good son, and that he wasn’t a good enough person.

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Overtime, I let him quit these activities one at time. I wish it was because I became aware and saw the damage occurring, but it wasn’t. Sometimes it was because I got worn down by his complaints, but sometimes it was because I just needed one less thing to do.

Eventually, I felt kind of like I’d failed at this leading, guiding my children thing. How could they grow up to be worthwhile, successful humans if I didn’t make them do all the good and wonderful things? I felt discouraged, helpless and really worried.

I don’t know exactly why, or how, but I finally decided that my way wasn’t working. So I decided that maybe I’d just take a giant step back. I stopped signing them up for things unless they asked to do it. When they expressed interest in something, I asked them what they wanted me to do, and then I followed their lead. I quit pushing ideas and activities that I thought would build great adults, and instead focused on allowing them to discover who they were and what they liked.

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I switched from trying to be the boss of my children’s lives to being the facilitator. This wasn’t easy. Old habits absolutely die hard. But I practiced. I practiced talking myself down when I’d feel worried. I’d remind myself of all the good ways I was mothering. I practiced listening. I practiced asking questions.
“What do you want to do?’
“What do you like about that?”
“What do you want to do more of? Less of?”
And biggest, most important question of all-
“How can I help?”

And the crazy thing is- they answered. But not in the way I thought. I was told often “I got this mom.”

Something amazing happened. My children became truly excited about things that mattered to them. They got good at some things. They discovered, they grew, they became their real selves. They taught me about the level of stress they could manage, and the pace at which they want to live their lives.

It turns out they didn’t become aimless, lazy people. Nothing bad happened. They didn’t need me to micro-manage and figure this out for them. They just needed me to be interested and supportive. I let go trying to force and control and direct. There’s a liberating, scary freedom in that. You must trust that creating and allowing an environment that allows growth and development is enough.

And it turns out- that’s absolutely enough.

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One of the greatest blessing of my husband being out of work for 7 months was that we canceled almost all kid activities. My oldest daughter was able to do work for her singing teacher in exchange for lessons, and my son who really actually needs to be doing something got to still do basketball. I loved not racing to do stuff every night. So when employment was found again, I decided to let the kids each pick something old or new that they wanted to try. And so far it’s been really great. I do have one child who still won’t practice, and I can’t bring myself to cancel that fun new activity yet. And I’m terrible at finding ways to reach this child about practicing. They love the activity, they make progress, but they could make so much more if they practiced. But maybe that’s where I need to step back and say, his progress is good enough for him. So it should be good enough for me. Easy to say if the activity isn’t expensive. But his lessons are. So I’m torn!

Parenting is hard. But I think Reva has given such great advice. Our kids aren’t going to grow up to be failures when they have parents who love them and are there to help them and nurture them and help them figure out God’s plan for them. As parents we are gifted with inspiration- if we seek it- on how to help our children. So, I’m going to keep praying and seeking inspiration for my son, and my other children. And try harder to take a step back and ask them How can I help you achieve your goals?

Life is Good. Share the Good.

PS Reva’s website is Please check her out and follow her on IG! I know that you will be inspired with ways to give yourself more self-care, and ways to be a better wife, mother and parent. We can do this together!

PSS To check out her latest Studio 5 clip click here She gives great perspective on several phrases that we can use to benefit our mental health and happiness. {note there is a little ad before the clip starts}

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