Permission Granted

by Amy  - July 20, 2021

Being a grown up is weird.

Well, it can be weird. Sometimes.

Do you ever find yourself in a situation looking around like … shouldn’t this be something that somebody else does? Like where’s the adult here … oh wait…it’s me.

I remember leaving the hospital with my newborn daughter. Thinking that on the way out somebody would stop me and say…hey, before you leave let me ask you, “do you know how to be a parent … did you read the books and take the class?”

Nobody did. I just walked right out. But it felt weird.

Learned behavior

Babies don’t understand rules. They eat, sleep, poop and cry whenever the urge hits. Toddlers are a challenge because in part we are socializing these new humans into when it’s okay to do some things and when it’s not.

Don’t hit or bite people. Sleep at night and at nap time … please. Share toys with friends. These are toddler lessons.

When we are kids we are surrounded by rules and guidelines.

Some guidelines are very clear and they serve an obvious purpose. Don’t put your hand in the fire because you will get burned.

Other guidelines are a little more vague or nuanced.

You can run but not on the pool deck … why? Because the lifeguard says so.

You can cross the street but not when the crosswalk sign is not illuminated… because cars are coming. Why? Because you may get hurt. Of course, in this example, it’s unclear because if you are careful you can cross the street and not get hurt.

With each year we learn new stuff along the way.

Permission Benchmarks

As we get older we clear benchmarks and we get permission to do bigger and bolder things. I call these permission benchmarks because we hit the benchmark and we get permission and when we repeat this over and over we learn that if we want to do things we need somebody’s permission.

We practice driving and take a test and then we can drive cars. We turn 18 and then we can vote. We graduate from high school and then we can go to college. We get certificates and diplomas and then we can do certain jobs.

Some of these permission benchmarks are really important. I rely that my doctor has gone to medical school. I look and check that benchmark. Same with pilots of airplanes … I rely on the system of training the pilots.

But sometimes these are not helpful or needed.

Adult decisions

Think about all the times you look at what you want to do and then ask … what do I need to do and who do I need to ask to do this?

Can I swim in this lake or ocean (look for a sign, join a club, take swim lessons)

Wanna travel to Europe (you need a ticket, a passport, maybe a visa).

Wanna become a mechanic (go to school, find a mentor and a job.)

Wanna change jobs (look for a program, get a dipoloma, look for a job)

Wanna sell your house and move to a yurt … or maybe a yurt is going too far so just a smaller house or apartment (ask your ex-spouse, girlfriends and your parents what they think first).

Sometimes these permission benchmarks are not really needed. We just feel like they are.

But there are lots of things that we just decide for ourselves.

We can just decide for ourselves.

That can be tricky because some of us have a lifetime of training to get approval or permission for others. But we’re adults we can sometimes decide for ourselves.

Or we can get stuck in just looking for somebody or something to give us permission and validate our decisions.

What do you want to eat for dinner?

Why is that such a hard question sometimes?

This question drives moms nuts. This question can cause full-out fights between partners.

In my house i sometimes HATE this question because I am trying to juggle desires and wants of others. One kid hates tomatoes the other loves them. I’m also trying to figure out how much mess I want to deal with and what I want to spend. Do I want to order in or cook dinner. I used to find myself wishing … why doesn’t somebody else just make this decision.

I have bought books on what to make for dinner. I make schedules and meal plans and I’ve subscribed to meal delivery services.

Truthfully, the pressure is all inside me. If I just let all of the imagined responsibility go I can actually make whatever decision I want about dinner. Open the fridge … coldcuts and fruit. Fine. Done. Bowl of cereal. That could be dinner. Right? Order pizza, drive through a local fast food joint. All that’s needed is for me to feel that I give myself permission to make the decision.

Should I do a triathlon? Should I go back to school? Should I join a gym? Go for a run? Do a triathlon? Quit my job? Throw a party? Homeschool my kids? Buy an RV? Fight with my family? Sell my house and move to a yurt?

Here’s a fun thing to do.

Look at your life.

What are the things you want to do?

Why aren’t you doing these things?

Are you waiting to do them because you are looking for permission from somebody else?

Do you actually need it?

Sometimes that answer is yes. Sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes you can give yourself permission.

And it’s weird but we can forget that as adults. We can forget that we are grown ups and we can give ourselves permission. That’s when being an adult can be a little weird.

Alexa, take me to space.

Honestly, we are living in an amazing time.

A lot of the old gatekeepers are gone. FFS, 2 billionaires just flew themselves to space. Think about that. They had dreams as kids of going to space but they became moguls instead of astronauts. Then when they were all grown up they just spent some many millions of dollars and built their own space ships and flew themselves to space.

It’s kind of crazy. But at some point each of those moguls decided to switch and give themselves permission to do what they wanted.

Probably they did need some sort of permission from somebody to shoot themselves into the sky … let’s hope but …honestly, who knows.

I don’t have billions of dollars and I actually don’t think I want to go to space so that example isn’t realistic to me. It’s not something I want to do.

It’s still a good exercise … what are the things I want to do that I’m not doing because I’m waiting for permission? And do I actually need that permission?

Training for You

Grab my Steps for Happiness as a Stepparent


Amy Stone (she/her/hers) is a life coach who helps adults in blended families. She is a mom, step-mom and a step-grandma. Other random fun facts include that She is a 7-time Ironman triathlon finisher and many many marathons and shorter races. She created

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