Confessions of a Chronic Fixer


mom life fixerI am a fixer.

I fix things. I don’t mean in a home improvement or “handyman” sense. I mean in an “I want your problems to be solved” sense. For most of my life, I have been “ the fixer.”  I’ve taken on this role with gusto and determination for as long as I can remember.

This notion has only intensified since I’ve had children.

As a recovering “people pleaser” and “perfectionist,’ I’ve done enough work on myself to logically know you cannot fix people who do not want to be fixed. You cannot fix people who want to be fixed, either for that matter. However, when it comes to my kids, I find it nearly impossible to hold back.

I’m not talking about basic safety like grabbing a child before he runs into the street. I’m talking about trying to navigate your child’s emotions and decision making. I’m talking about the urge to not let them have a negative emotion or a bad consequence.

You know the old saying “you are only as happy as your least happy child?” Nothing rings truer to me. How can my happiness not be tied to my children? How can I not want to do everything in my power to make them happy? Isn’t the best way to make them happy by intercepting the negative emotions and consequences that we see heading right toward them?

But here is the hard truth. If I try to fix everything for them, they won’t develop the skills they need to work things out for themselves.

They need heartbreak and conflict and disappointment and failure. They need these things to grow and evolve. I would be doing them a great disservice if I always intervened at the first sign of those uncomfortable, but very real and necessary, emotions.

I would also be showing them that they need “fixing” and that their feelings aren’t valid or necessary. How can my kids fully understand my unconditional love if they never make mistakes or generate disappointment from me?

I know my kids don’t need me to fix them. They only need me to love them. So where is the problem? I don’t know the difference between the two very well yet. Those lines are continuously blurred, and they get even more blurry the older they get and the more opportunities they have to make what I consider to be decisions I know will cause them pain.

It is hard to watch your child do the mental equivalent of running out into the street. There is a difference between guiding and fixing, between support and fixing, between protecting from real harm and fixing. But to a parent who is so blinded by love and protective instinct, those differences are so subtle they can appear non-existent.

So, what is the answer?

I don’t have one, other than to remind myself that somewhere along the line my kids will break and be broken. They will get shattered because life does that sometimes. But hopefully, they will know that even though I can’t fix it for them, I will always be there to help them pick up the shattered pieces as they and only they put themselves back together. And if I’ve done my job correctly, the final product of those recycled pieces will be so much better, stronger, and more beautiful than anything I could have created had I finished the project all by myself.


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