One of the toughest jobs for a parent, a teacher, relative or mentor, is learning how to let a child grow up and be their own person. How often have you heard the comment, “She’s going to be a lawyer/doctor/artist–just like her mom or dad!” Or someone says, “I never got the chance to become….whatever…. but I’m going to make sure my kids get that chance!”
So, you hoped you might raise a hockey star, a singer, a veterinarian, a successful business owner. But your dreams are not their dreams. This can be very difficult to accept. In fact, the more you push, the more resistance you’re likely to get. As grown ups, you may focus on some ideal or practical career options for your children – especially highly paid jobs, such as a doctor, lawyer or bank manager, or, your personal “dream career” to be fulfilled through your children.
The one thing parents all agree on, is happiness for their children. We are given one life, so it is so important to let every child be who they are, and grow up to who they want to be. This is what leads to a happier life for them.
How do you do this? Recognize their strengths and interests, even though they may not be yours. Encourage them in these interests, support them in as many ways as possible. For example, children who are interested in drawing benefit from a trip to an art gallery and need lots of fun art supplies around the house. Children who like to read usually enjoy telling and writing stories, so it is important to them to have a library card and perhaps an e-reader.
Kids often become super passionate about something very specific. One day it is the latest hockey star, and the next day, it’s the runner-up to The Voice . These are the times, often in the teenage years, when children are trying to discover who they are –and they do so by almost stepping into someone else’s shoes. There also are times when a child loses interest in something you thought they truly enjoyed. This is when kids need a break. Time to trim back on the activities and give space to think about it. Accept the fact that maybe this wasn’t what they wanted and allow them to move on gradually. If they want to go back to the activity again, encourage them by leaving the door open.
The most important role for anyone directly connected with kids is to see you as a role model–not because of your job or profession – but for the values you demonstrate every day. It is when you show encouragement, kindness, honesty, compassion and patience that you guide them the best way possible to become who they really are.
Be a beacon of light to them, a guide, a navigator – be there to catch them when they fall but also be there to help them be the best they can be.