When you first find out you are expecting a little bundle of joy, dreams start unfolding. If it’s a boy, will he grow up to be this or that. And if it’s a girl, will she do this or that. You start to picture a future for your child. You dream of things that you once were or once dreamed of being, wondering if this little mini you is going to grow up following in your same interests and passions.
Once you wrap your arms around that bundle of joy, you start showering them with those same dreams. Whether we mean to or not, we start to shape and mould their little brains around the dreams we have for them. How they will grow up big and strong. How they will be the best and brightest doctor, lawyer, athlete, fireperson, police person, ect. Some of us, sit back and just gaze into their eyes wondering what their future holds.
As they get older, some of us back off and encourage their exploration of the world around them. Others continue to push (and push hard) their dreams for these children onto them. They push them to study harder, where a B isn’t good enough. To practice harder, where a missed tackle, basket, handspring, ball, or goal is not acceptable. They can’t fathom a future where their child being something different than the play they laid out for them is good enough.
I think the best empowerment we can give as a parent is to sit back and watch them grow. I know all too well how a parent can receive a life changing diagnosis for their child and have to re-evaluate how I look at my children and treat them. Yes, I was disappointed but I also look at it as a blessing. It wasn’t THEIR dream for THEIR future. The one they have have live. It was MY dream for them. I grieved for a perceived loss.
I then rethought through this and saw a huge opportunity. An opportunity to grow productive members of society who follow THEIR dreams and goals. We talk through the thoughts they have. I chuckle when Em looks at me and says she is going to be a singer who buys a huge ranch with all the animals she can have and become a veterinarian. She doesn’t want to be rich but wants to be well off enough to help others. I listen while Christian talks through colleges and programs that fit his needs. Even if I don’t agree with him going far off, I plant a seed of staying close to home and reasons why. In the end, it’s still HIS choice.
Once I gave up my expectations for their future, and empowered them to grow as individuals, they began to explore the world around them. We found our way to exploring ideas we never dreamt of. Bigger and better for them. It fit them better. We weren’t pushing a square peg into that round hole.
I have very few expectations of my children. Wait. Here me out. I expect them to be honest. I expect them to be and do their best. I expect them to work hard. I expect them to push themselves. I will push them like a wind pushes a bird in flight. They can’t learn if they don’t fall. I won’t bail them out of situations they get into. I will help them talk/think through it for solutions, but they have to make those solutions work.
We live in a society where we as parents are so hyper involved our children can’t think outside of the box. We need to teach them to look at life and go, “what box?” We need to support our children and help them learn problem solving skills. We need to change our expectations from a 4.0 (or better) to did you do your best? How could you have done better? We need to go from nagging parental functioning units to a realistic consequenses based family.
Emelie may have autism. She knows sometimes she does stuff she doesn’t mean too, but that doesn’t mean she is exempt from consequenses. We, as her parents, have to make sure the consequenses fit the situation. Christian is the same way. He knows in order to do certain things, other things need to be done. I don’t harass him and all it took was one opportunity missed based on that principle and he knows what it takes.
We need to empower our children. This is our future. We won’t always be able to correct their mistakes or help them be better human beings if we continue to coddle them, push our dreams on them or bail them out.
So parents… step away. Empower them. Teach them. Grow them.