We’re all raised in families, communities and even entire cultures that barrage us with messages about what they want from us. “Get married,” “Make money,” “Buy your own home.” We usually forget when and how we first received these messages about what we’re supposed to do with our lives, just as we forget when and how we learned to eat with a fork. —Barbara Sher
Think about the messages the children in your life are receiving.
Some kids are groomed from pre-Kindergarten to get into an Ivy League college. Their parents have decided that’s what success is– plus it gives them significant bragging rights to be used against other parents.
But Stanford last year accepted only 4% of its applicants. Most of those who applied met enough of the qualifications to think they had a chance at getting in, but the vast majority didn’t. What’s the result?
A setup for failure
96% of the kids who applied– primarily kids who are not used to failure– failed. What do they do then? We may have prepared them for the Ivy League, but we haven’t prepared them for failure. And failure is actually an important part of life.
Maybe this particular example doesn’t apply to you. You’ve never put such unrealistically high expectations on your daughter. You just want her to grow up, get married, have kids, and be happy.
But again– what if that’s your dream, not your daughter’s dream?
What if she would rather move to New York to be an actress than move to the suburbs to be a mom? How will you handle that?
Barbara Sher says, “Parents have their own dreams and it’s those dreams they’re pushing, not the child’s. In their heads, they have images of successful sons and daughters…children who are impressive—and secure.
“Very few parents have… the calmness of spirit to realize that the most practical thing any child can do is to find their own vision—and follow it.”
We need to disentangle our own goals– and our own identities– from those of the children in our lives. They are different people than we are and they are on a different journey than we have been on.
How okay is that with you?
Next week: Parents’ unfulfilled goals and a child’s future
Tweetable: A discussion here about the need to disentangle a child’s goals from our goals and identity for them. Click to Tweet