Most parents have NO idea of exactly how much power they yield over their child’s future. Sadly, though, it is also a power that can be unintentionally misguided, and even abused…
Here are 5 things which can have long term effects on the choices your kids make, and whether they are able to live their lives to the fullest or not:
1. Discouraging them from following their dreams.
As parents, we tend to be over-protective. We just want our kids to be able to make a life for themselves, and lead decent, comfortable lives. We want them to stay out of trouble, and to be able to support themselves and their families.
But at what price?
All over the world, people find themselves to be dreadfully unhappy in what they do for a living. It leads to incredible stress levels, depression, and other mental health problems.
Yes, your child may never be able to achieve what he or she wants to do…
But then again he or she might just do it. And if you hold them back, you will never know.
So before you discourage your child again – rather engage with them, and tell them what to expect, and if you can, help them to prepare for it.
And always remember – if your child wants to be an astronaut (which you think is ridiculous, of course – anybody can do that, but NOT YOUR child…), he or she may end up being a test pilot, or even end up doing research for NASA. Many people have pursued that which they thought they wanted, only to discover what they really want during the journey.
2. Not being there for them when they need you.
Yes, we live in a tough world, and especially if you are a single parent, being everywhere at once could prove difficult. but consider this…
If your child ever needs guidance and advice, and you aren’t there for them…
Just WHO will they turn to? The “big boy” of the neighborhood, who may turn out to be the “bad boy” of the town? Someone who is making a lot of money, but doing so illegally?
If your child isn’t getting support and advice from you, you never know just how bad their chosen source is…
Yes, kids can apparently only start evaluating things from (roughly) age ten. Before that, life is a complex juggling act of discipline, guidance, and explaining why things are done as they are.
But if your parenting model is based on obedience…
Then your child may never learn to critically evaluate any situation, or potential situation. After all, if they are having fun, and you aren’t there to tell them what to do, why would they want to do as you would?
Parenting – especially during teenage years, is a very delicate blend of guidance, support, and mutual trust. Accept that he or she will make some mistakes – but firstly try to get them to learn from those mistakes, and secondly try to reduce the potential for severe consequences.
It’s not as easy as it sounds (my daughter is 19 now – I should know…:).
4. Not listening – like REALLY listening.
Ok, this can be a topic for discussion all on its own, but…
Just remember three things:
a. Many people say one thing, or talk about one thing, when the actual issue is elsewhere. Learn to read between the lines, or learn how to dig to what is really the source of the unhappiness or confusion.
b. They live in a very different world from the one we grew up in – and their peers behave differently. Values have shifted, expectations have shifted, and behavioral patterns have shifted. When you try to give advice, first ascertain what the situation is really like – and then give advice that will work for today’s world. If you can’t, go ask someone who can help you gain some insight.
But never push your old-world ideas onto a current problem. All that will happen is that your child will lose faith in your sense of judgment – and turn to someone else for advice.
c. Each person experiences things (situations, events, feelings, etc) differently. So even if your child is going through something you have gone through yourself, he or she may experience it totally differently from the way you did. Just like some people feel cold more than others, or are more (or less) sensitive than others. Respect that, and work with it as best as you can.
5. Forcing them to live YOUR dreams.
This is something sooo many parents are guilty of. They wanted to achieve something in life, and couldn’t – for whatever reason. And then they decide that “my child is going to do what I couldn’t”.
And from a young age, the child apparently has a “talent” for whatever you wanted to do (remember, we see what we want to see…).
And even if he or she may have a real talent for it, it might not be what they want to do with his/her life. They may want to do it for fun, or they may have totally different strengths and weaknesses, which enable them to do different things.
The fact that your child is good at something, doesn’t give you the right to expect them to complete your dreams.
At the end of the day, you as a parent will experience great satisfaction – and the child will feel obligated to please his or her parent.
But who knows what his or her life could have been if you simply let it take its course?
You may have forced a future astronaut to become a football player. Or you may have forced a potentially brilliant doctor to become a model. Or you may have forced a future president to become an engineer…
You don’t know what you don’t know – so never assume that you do. Especialy when it comes to what your children really want out of life. It’s hard enough from themselves to figure that out.
As Spiderman’s dad said…
With great power comes great responsibility.
It is so easy to mess up one or more whole lives by simply not living up to every aspect of yours.