I recently drove past a church’s sign that said, “Are your goals about your hopes or your fears?” What a great question, especially for parents. Our words and our reactions to our children become how they think of themselves. Our fears become their insecurities… and today’s parents are full of fear. I speak to parents all the time in my role as a school director and on the road when I am hired to speak about parenting. Their fears worry me because I also work with many children and teens who suffer from anxiety, depression and/or self-destructive behaviors.
Parents need to think about from where their parenting is rooted. Is it rooted in hope and acceptance? Is it rooted in fear and insecurity? Parenting goals need to be based on the reality of your child’s development and abilities with an eye on what really matters for the future. When we hold our children for the first time, we dream of them having a happy and healthy life. A happy and healthy life includes following their dreams and not ours. It means having a life filled with personal fulfillment. It needs to be based in self-acceptance. Somehow, along the way, this vision gets muddled with worry about being in the gifted & talented class or with fear that being identified in need of special services will harm the child. It gets lost in concerns for being the best in a dance class or making the elite sports team. It becomes about comparing their class assignments with the neighbor who has just 1 more advanced placement class. Dreams for their happiness become too much about parents and not enough about the children.
Ask yourself, “Who do I want my children to be and what do I want them to value?” If you want them to value your culture, then you must lead a life that immerses your family in that culture. If you want them to be happy, they need to know that happiness is not about competition. It is about self-acceptance. They cannot accept themselves if you do not accept them – if you are pushing them to be who they are not.
Every child develops at his/her own rate. Every child has strengths and weaknesses. We know that about ourselves but, too often, fear it in our children. Children are always doing their best. When they don’t seem to be applying themselves, there is a reason. When they struggle with a subject, they simply need help, encouragement and the knowledge that being the best at everything isn’t reality. They need to see confidence in their parent’s eyes and not fear or disappointment. They need parents to provide them with the real tools for a happy life – confidence, peace of mind and self-acceptance.
– Cindy Terebush, CPC, CPYFC