--Adam Maisen, LPC-S
All parents have hopes and dreams for our kids. Some would love nothing more than to have kids follow in their footsteps, take over the family business, be successful in what interests them personally. I have heard dads who hold their newborns and say he or she is going to be my hunting buddy one day. I have also talked with adults that shared they always hated hunting with their dads.
I think most parents want what we believe is best for our kids. We want them to gain notoriety and be liked by others. This is a good thing but can be taken too far if we find our own identity in our kids. Reliving the glory days vicariously through our kids puts an incredible amount of pressure on them to perform.
When this happens, kids do not feel free to be themselves and fear that they are not acceptable to their parents. What if their personal interests differ from the mold that we want to put them into?
My wife and I are both musically inclined. We come from musical families. Band and choir were huge parts of both of our lives for years. Our idea of a good stadium event is a Drum Corp International Competition. I admit that we geek out a lot over musical performance.
I say all of this to frame our surprise when our oldest son came to us a few years ago with an interest in joining the local youth wrestling team. The only horn that might be heard at those events is the blare of an air horn. We were out of our element and didn’t know what to do. Nevertheless, this is what he was interested in. He still is, and we have come to appreciate the sport too.
Cultivating Our Kids
When we try to put our kids in a box that they don’t fit into, we feel disappointed and leave them feeling discouraged. This will hurt our relationship with them, which is a big concern. For me though, the bigger tragedy would be for them not to pursue their own dreams for fear of not fitting the mold. The last thing I want to do is to clip their wings by leading them in a direction that does not make sense for them.
For us to be able to cultivate the interests of each of our kids, we have to consider these questions:
- Are we mindful that each of our kids is their own person with individual desires, hopes, dreams, and interests?
- Are we exposing our kids to a variety of opportunities and allowing them to find their niche?
- Are we intentional in paying attention to the things our kids gravitate towards?
- Do we encourage our kids to work hard cultivating their personal interests, even if they are different from our own?
- Do we let our kids know that we accept them unconditionally and are proud of them?
- Are we active in engaging with our kids in things they are passionate about, even if it means learning a new skill or stepping out of our own comfort zone?
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