I never thought of myself as being “controlling.” I don’t “bully” people to get my way, I’m not abusive, I don’t have combative relationships. If anything, I run from conflict.
But I am a “Fixer.”
What is a “Fixer?” Well, if someone comes to me with an issue or a problem that’s plaguing them, my first instinct I to “fix them” or “fix it” for them.
The car is broken? I find a way to “fix it.” The doctor over-billed me again? I “fix it.” Kids need help with a personal situation, I’m the mom to ask. Husband wants a better paying job? Let me help you find one. Friend is buried in emotional turmoil? Let me help you find the right professional to call. I mean, if they’re asking for help and can’t see the forest for the trees, then they need someone to help them, and I’m that person, right? Not necessarily.
What’s the problem with being a “Fixer”? I mean, it’s just wanting to help, right? Well, there are a lot of problems with being a Fixer.
First and foremost, it’s emotionally exhausting! Taking on other people’s problems as your own only adds to your own laundry list of problems.
Secondly, not everyone WANTS their problem fixed. Not everyone wants to even recognize their problem (including the fixer). Sometimes, someone just needs you to listen.
Another problem with being a Fixer is assuming that you have the answer or are qualified to give one. I certainly don’t pretend to know everything, and I do research all the time to find solutions for my own problems. Why shouldn’t I do the same for you? Sometimes it just isn’t any of my business. Some problems are too big for someone else to fix. Some problems can’t be fixed at all.
I recently joined a study at church where we are working through the book “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. What an eye-opener! I wasn’t even aware I had boundary issues. I mean, that’s something you have with a mom that won’t stay out of your business, or for people who don’t know how to say “no.” Trust me, I have no problem saying “no” to people. And I’ve learned to “handle” my mom in recent years. How was I to know that I was the person with the boundary issues?! LOL
I think, as a Mom, it’s an easy trap to fall into. We generally run the household: we decide on the weekly menu, we make sure homework is done, we make sure people get up in time for school in the morning, we watch the clock like a hawk some days because if we don’t, no one else will! The responsibility falls on our shoulders. If we don’t help our kids “succeed,” then we’ve set them up for failure, right? And who wants to be THAT mom?! Who wants to be the mom that didn’t have her act together to give her child every opportunity possible to be the best they can be?
Who wants to be the mom that doesn’t dry the tears, give the hugs, fix the hurts, celebrate the joys?
Who wants to be the mom that FAILS HER KIDS?! Not me! And probably not you either.
I can’t speak for your situation, but for me, being the “fixer” hasn’t made my kid a straight-A student. It hasn’t made them the happiest kid in their class. It hasn’t kept conflict out of the house or their lives.
True, there’s a point in their lives when they rely completely and totally on us for everything. But we have to learn to let go of the rope a little at a time…to set boundaries. Otherwise, we end up hating ourselves for every time they fail, asking what we did wrong when they do the exact opposite of what we taught them.
In actuality, they’re pushing back is a completely natural response. It’s what they are supposed to do when they get to their teen years. They don’t WANT us to fix ANYTHING for them at all. And if that’s the role you’ve set for yourself, “The Fixer,” then what are you supposed to do? What is your role? I ask myself these questions on a daily basis.
So, as my kids go through their teen years, and I reach my 50s, we’re both learning to redefine our roles, to set up NEW boundaries…not walls. Boundaries are made to go through with permission, not shut out completely. And I’m not going to lie to you…it’s a very hard thing to balance. It’s a tightrope that is constantly moving. But I’m learning. And I pray…A LOT.
So being the “Fixer” is not all it’s cracked up to be. You don’t have to “fix” them to still be their hero. You don’t have to “fix” things to still love them. “Fixing them” won’t “fix” anything. It’s an illusion, something we’ve built up in our minds as our role as “Mom.” But it’s not true.
Now as situations arise, I try to pause and ask myself if they need a “fixer” or a “Mom” because the two are not synonymous. I’m finding that they need a “Mom” more often than they need a “Fixer.”
How about you? Are you a “Fixer?” Do you have to stop yourself from “fixing” everything? Please tell me that I’ not alone. LOL