I knew some parents once who were so afraid that their
teenage daughter was going to get into trouble that they
micro-managed her life, allowing her virtually no freedom
at all. They gave her rides to everything and picked
her up, they didn't allow her to stay over at friends'
house, the whole deal. The girl was miserable, and
needless to say, the parents were pretty miserable,
too. It got to be so stressful when the daughter
finally rebelled that the parents just threw up their
hands and said "Fine, do what you want."
The parents were amazed--and quite humbled--when it turned
out that their daughter was a pretty responsible young
lady. She made a few mistakes, but none that were
drastic. The parents learned that when they gave her
the freedom to be who she was, they no longer had to try
to mold her into who they thought she would be, and their
lives became much, much easier. We see the same
things in relationships between spouses, lovers, siblings,
and friends--try to control the other person's behaviors
and actions and thoughts and reactions, and you're only
setting yourself up for misery.
If I want to be truly free, I have to let others be free
to be who they are and do what they want. When I try
to control others, I suffer just as much as they do.
I see this often in my classroom--when I'm able to let the
students be because they're behaving well, my stress level
is very low. When someone starts acting up, though,
my stress level rises because I now have to take away
another person's freedom because they're abusing their
freedom in an inappropriate situation.
If you want to be truly free, then let others be
free. Otherwise, freedom is just a word or a dream,
but not a true experience.