Don’t Try to Tame Your Child’s Wild Hare

How To Channel Our Children’s Desires for Adventure

Reflections from My Daughter

I recently asked my oldest daughter,

“If you could share with my MOTTS moms one thing, during your adolescent years, that you would have liked me to have done differently, what would it have been?”

Now, I am not someone who believes in living with regret over the parenting choices I have made in the past, however, if my mistakes (or short-sightedness) can help you, I will gladly share them!

So, if you have a child that likes to live life on the edge and displays risky behavior, well you know how scary this can be. For me, it was terrifying. Maybe that sounds a little dramatic to you, but all I wanted to do was tie her up and keep her in the closet—if it would keep her safe. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that and the more I tried to tame her wild hare, the more she would rebel. Well, enough said. Now it’s her turn to share and I believe you’ll find it helpful and inspiring…

My mom has always said I had a “wild hare” and this is true. I never gravitated toward sports, or music, or any real club or niche in high school. My brother plays collegiate baseball and my sister has a voice like a bird. I think I always felt a little “talent-less.” I have always loved adventure, traveling, and living on the wild side, to say the least. I won’t put words in my mom’s mouth, but I think she struggled with how to support my oftentimes, risky behavior and channel it into something positive.

For example, I went on a few mission trips to Juarez, Mexico in high school and wanted to live there for a summer (if you don’t know, Juarez is a dangerous border city run almost exclusively by drug traffickers). This raised big red flags for my mother, and understandably so. I know my wild streaks scared my mom but rather than seeing my risk-taking as an opportunity to explore and move outside my comfort zone, she often stifled me with her fear.

Since then, we’ve talked about my aspirations for the summer in Juarez as a desire for adventure—to feel alive and to help people. We’ve spoken about other ways my mom could have guided my precarious behavior, rather than fearfully trying to control it.

If you have a child who has a bit of a “wild hare”, I encourage you to find outlets that will support them and channel their wild side—in positive ways. Explore and embrace what matters to your child. While it may be out of your comfort zone, your desire to understand and support them will speak volumes to your teen. Your supportive gestures will not only help your teen find their niche and channel their wild side, but build connection and a healthier relationship for both of you.

wild teenager, wild teensIsn’t that well said? I admit that I still struggle with her risk-taking, wild side. Even to this day, she loves to work in the inner city, in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. I won’t deny it. This terrifies me. Much of the time, I wish she were wired differently so I would worry less. But, that’s not her job. My job is to grow my capacity to trust, let go, and allow her to live her own life. My desire as a mom is to love each of my children for who they are and less from a place that is from my own comfort zone.

If you have a child who is prone to living life on the wild side, be proactive. Rather than fighting against their sense of adventure, find ways to fulfill their needs and desires in positive ways. Learn to love your child’s attributes that are different from yours. We can all grow our capacity to love our children well.

Questions: Do you relate to having a tween or teen that has a wild side? What are some positive ways that you have channeled their desire for adventure? How has this article helped you to think differently about your child’s wild hare?

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