How do you reconcile the dreams you have for your kids verses the dreams they have for themselves? Whether it’s the child you’ve given birth to or the child of your child, we all have hopes, dreams and aspirations for our children. Some of us have lofty and specific careers in mind for our offspring. Some of us transpose our own fears including a fear of failure onto our children as we expect them to view life through our lens and not their own. Others of us just want our kids to be well adjusted, happy and productive citizens. Oh…….. As long as they grow up and marry likeminded people who will give us wonderful, healthy and smart grandchildren to love and be loved!! Quite ambitious undertakings especially in this complex world we live in.
I was absolutely amazed when it dawned on me just how much outside influence our children are subjected to when they leave the nest that first day of kindergarten. Their teachers, classmates, scout leaders, dance instructors, coaches, are all exercising some amount of influence on our precious offspring which is directly proportionate to the amount of time they are in our children’s airspace. Is their influence aligned with your core values? Do they speak the same language of love, caring, concern, ambition, drive, determination as you do? Do they motivate by fear, negativity, harsh words? Are they overly unrealistic, believing that every child deserves a trophy just for showing up? Unfortunately, there is no blueprint that will guarantee that our children will grow into successful adults. If there were, then all children would be raised with that blueprint for success because one thing I am sure of is that all parents, regardless of their own personal circumstances, want the best for their children.
How do we create balance? How can we ensure that all of our children’s touch points include normal well-adjusted people who will exert a positive influence on them? Even some of our own family members can be suspect. I am sure some of us would love to limit contact with many of the people our children engage with on a daily basis. One of my children’s first grade teachers was a certifiable bully. Every day, my child walked to school with a heavy heart, afraid to grow, read, or even speak in class. My original thought was that I should see how this played out because he was going to have to deal with different personality types throughout his life and I did not want to be a helicopter mom. Then I paid attention to that little voice in my head that was admonishing me. “He is 6 years old. Learning should be fun, non-threatening, and engaging.” The end result was that I had his class changed. This change was transformational. I could not believe my son knew how to read. His educational light was illuminated and more importantly he was once again the happy, carefree, and full of life child I knew. This experience was life changing for me. Being an advocate for my child was NOT a negative indictment on my mothering skills. Being a helicopter mom is ok as long as you keep it in balance, because as we know it is truly a balancing act.
How do we raise happy, well-adjusted and successful children? I certainly do not have all of the answers. All I do know is that it’s a work in progress. Every day is a challenge. Remaining ever vigilant, non-trusting, yes I did say non-trusting, paying attention to context clues, and more importantly knowing your child and THEIR friends are the first steps in the process. Don’t be afraid to say NO if you feel uncomfortable with the situation, the request, or the circumstance. They will get over it. Your inner voice is God’s way of speaking to you and, in my opinion, it is better to err on the side of caution then to find you and your child in a quagmire of circumstances that could or should have been avoided if only you paid attention to that inner voice.
I obviously don’t know it all. I have three grown children, each with their own individuality, their own view of the world and their distinctly different ways of approaching life head on. Do I always agree with their choices? Absolutely not! At the end of the day, I have to take comfort in the fact that we’ve done the best we could with the resources, education, and sum total of the experiences we’ve all had. My relationship with my adult children is still a work in progress. As they’ve transition from childhood to adulthood we’re still evolving, learning, loving and growing. I guess that’s the all we can expect and hope for.