I have a new mantra and it’s freeing me up from a lot of emotional junk.
“I don’t know.”
It’s the truth.
I don’t know if I’m doing this parenting thing “right.”
I don’t know if the text I just sent to my son was okay, or if I should have said it differently.
I don’t know if my older daughter struggles today because I screwed some things up parenting her.
I don’t know if I’m hovering over my 17 year old too much or not spending enough time with her.
I don’t know a lot of things!
Are you tired of feeling guilty for not knowing the answer to something that has to do with parenting your kids? How about feeling pressure to have an answer or something figured out?
How might you feel differently if you didn’t have to know?
Here are a few benefits of saying “I don’t know:”
It keeps you sane.
Parenting adolescents can cause anxiety to say the least. Rather than feeling like we have to have this parenting thing figured out, you can relax and be okay with not having the answers. It’s OKAY and the plain truth! There’s no pressure to fix something or to get something “right.” I find great comfort in having a sense of humor, shrugging my shoulders and saying, “I have no idea!”
It keeps us open to learning and listening.
Think about the last time you argued with your child. How different would it be if you were just curious about what your child had to say – listening to their opinions and thoughts, rather than convincing, blaming, or arguing? Disagreements don’t have to limit us from hearing the voice of another. When we are open to hearing and seek to understand our children’s perspective, we love them a little better and can learn a whole lot more. (should I add – about them or from them or just leave it?)
It keeps us humble.
I remember judging a mom whose daughter went to our church because she was “wild.” I thought I was a much better mom, I often thought, “This mom is way too lenient and distracted. She is totally clueless. She should…”
Wow, was I humbled. Only a year later I found out my daughter was doing some of the same “wild” things. It totally changed my perspective towards this mother. I became more understanding and compassionate.
It connects us.
When I meet a mom that admits her parenting insecurities, voices her questions, and simply admits she doesn’t know what she is doing much of the time – I love her!
I sigh with relief and let my guard down. I feel an instant bond and feel safe to be real.
It helps us to grow.
“The only people who grow in truth are those who are humble and honest.” Richard Rohr
It takes character and humility to look at yourself and admit that you don’t have things figured out; that other people have something to teach you. Admitting we don’t know is the first step towards growing as a person.
It keeps us honest.
Instead of trying to come up with an answer, we might tell the truth:
“I don’t know what I would do if I was in their shoes.”
“Who am I to judge?”
“I struggle with that too.”
“I have no idea how to handle this.”
It helps others to share their thoughts.
Rather than telling someone what to do as if you have the answer, ask good questions and allow others to share what they think. “I don’t know” frees you from the responsibility to fix something.
To your teen: I don’t know what you should do. What do you think?
To your spouse: I don’t know what you are thinking. Can you tell me?
I don’t know the answer to what someone else should do.
I don’t know what I should do in this situation.
I don’t have it figured out right now. And it’s okay.
Humility is at the heart of relationships. “I don’t know” is a beautiful way to start. It inspires successful relationships.
And, “I don’t know” will make a relationship stronger every time. It keeps us humble and open; we relax, we’re less defensive, and we can be more compassionate towards ourselves and others. We become better listeners and let go of our egos and the need to be right. As a result, we’re better able to express gratitude, appreciation, and empathy for others.
The next time you’re tempted to have an answer or believe you know better than someone else, instead, shrug your shoulders, and say out loud, “I don’t know!” It’s freeing!