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Today, when I found myself knocking heads with my own teenage son over his educational goals, I was reminded of an important lesson I learned from my yoga instructor: “Soften and open to grace.” 
This is a challenging thing to do as a parent, especially when what you have in mind for your teenager is not what your teenager has in mind for himself.
This begs the very important question: Does your child have to have the same values as you do? Does he have to share the same educational standards? How about the same religious views? Yikes! Is it ok if he doesn’t?!
These in particular can be very difficult questions for parents to swallow.
Just as you soften your body to find a graceful yoga pose, when you soften your strict, closed-minded thinking about parenting, often your eyes will open, gracefully, to a beautiful teenager who can think and problem solve on his own, in a totally different, but just as effective way as you.
When I opened my mind to a new way of thinking, when I softened and allowed my son to make his own decisions, I was amazed at the new things I learned about him. I was also proud of myself for honoring who he is, not who I want him to be, and I was overwhelmed with the grace of knowing that there is more than one way for him to live his life!
My son, in return, hopefully had immediate relief in knowing that he was heard, understood, and no longer had to feel alone and different.
When I closed my motherly, all-knowing mouth and opened my loving ears, I actually got to hear my beloved child’s deepest thoughts, feelings, fears, and beliefs.  And many of them are different from my own…HOW COOL IS THAT???
Had I stuck to my guns and done what “a good parent would do” by authoritatively enforcing my own high educational standards on him, I would have missed a wonderful opportunity to learn what my son is thinking and dreaming about for himself.
And guess what? When I tried the former, I invited a rebellious reply. Not surprising! 
When I softened, I was showered with the deepest parenting grace.
Is it more important that your child have the exact same values as you? Or is it more important that he shine his own light and truth into the world?
Ask yourself, who wins and who loses when you remain rigid and inflexible in what you expect from your child?
If you soften, maybe just a little, you might be rewarded with this same kind of grace. Try it, and let me know what happens!                     

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