Wednesday, 17 August 2016

PARENTING LESSON #7 ~ Their Journey is Their Own

PARENTING LESSON #7 ~ Their Journey is Their Own

FAMILY HISTORY

As a parent you always seem to think you know what is best for your child. Most of the time that's true, but sometimes it can be distorted by your own childhood experiences, the expectations that were put on you, your successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses. It can overflow onto our own children and what we think is best for them.

So many people have stories of going into a particular profession because it was expected of them - family traditions, the family business, the career their parent wanted and couldn't have, so pushed them towards instead. In my case, my parents were sure that a university education was wasted on a girl because "she would get married and have babies and never use it". What were they thinking? It certainly limited my choices as far as tertiary education went - I found a course that paid a small training allowance and that was acceptable because I could pay board and finance myself. Fortunately it was a good fit and made a good jumping off point for my future work life. I'd have chosen something completely different if it was up to me, but that's a whole different story.


MEMORIES

I dated a boy a long (long, long) time ago who always knew he would be an engineer because his father had wanted to be one and never quite made it. This became the sole focus of his parents - not his sisters and their career choices, no....it was only the assurance that their son would be an engineer and fulfill his father's hopes and dreams. Fortunately he didn't seem to mind being directed so strongly but I wondered if he'd have found a completely different vocation if he'd gone with his own direction instead of his parents'.

Everyone has their own unique journey. A path that’s right for someone else won’t necessarily be a path that’s right for you. And that’s okay. Your journey isn’t right or wrong, or good or bad. It’s just different.

INSTILLING SELF-WORTH

We need to have instilled qualities into our children that give them an understanding of themselves as individuals in their own right. They need to be able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. They need to allowed to make mistakes and take wrong paths in their journey. You can't control all their choices and push them into a mold that suits you but may not suit them.

Some young people know exactly what they want to do with their lives (our son knew what he wanted to be from quite an early age and pursued it). Others take longer, some start a university course and change direction part way through. Some start working and then decide to go back to study (some may even wait until midlife to do just that!) Our daughter worked in an office for a couple of years before deciding what she wanted to do with her life. She went to university, graduated and now doesn't want to have kids because she loves her job so much (I wasn't planning on that happening!)

EVERYONE'S JOURNEY IS THEIR OWN

There are so many paths open to our children - some catch the travel bug and only work long enough to earn enough money to pay for their next trip. Others work while they're tripping around the world and send an occasional text to let their parents know they're okay. I know young women who love being stay at home mothers raising their children and that's a wonderful choice to make. Today so many feel the need to get back to work as soon as possible and that's fine too. Everyone's path is different and we have to let our kids choose their own journey. We may feel left behind sometimes, but that's part of parenting -  encouraging your children to be all they can be (and hopefully they'll remember to phone home or visit occasionally so we know we're still in their lives!)

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PARENTING LESSON #7 ~ Their Journey is Their Own

30 comments:

  1. I don't know what kind of mother I would have been to a biological child, but I often share this is a gift of adoption.
    I don't try to force her to do anything I wish I had done – – I eagerly await and watch for her gifts to unfold.

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    1. Maybe having an adopted child allows you to see them as their own person more than as a reflection (mini "me") of yourself Carla - that is a gift for her indeed!

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  2. This is a hard thing for too many parents to do. I can remember my mother's dreams for me - being a teacher - something I had absolutely no interest in. I tried to allow my own son, remembering this, to follow his own path, except that I do admit to pressuring him to attend college. But when he dropped out after one semester to find his own way, my husband and I both defended that to some relatives who questioned it. After all, it took a while for me to find my path. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    1. I think as long as we encourage our children to be all that they can be then we've done our jobs. It might not be the path we saw for them, but ultimately it's their life and they need to be happy and secure in their choices.

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  3. It's so true that we bring our past to our present experiences and reactions. Sometimes that's a good thing...but other times not so good.

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    1. I think of all those mothers who push their way into their daughters' weddings to have what they missed out on - it's never a good thing is it Sheryl?

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  4. I've witnessed so many examples of parents' failed dreams being thrust upon their kids. Usually with less-than-stellar results. Our son-in-law nearly worked himself to death pursuing a dream of an engineering degree that he thought his step-mother expected of him. On the day he got his degree, she asked him why on earth he went into engineering. He would have loved computer technology. Five years gone. Our friends's daughter wanted to go into the Arts. Their response? "The Arts? Want fries with that?!" She didn't. Yikes. Our kids went wherever they wanted. We have a musician, a soldier/cop, a Special Needs caregiver, a costumer/face painter, a theater tech and a hotel manager. Let's follow our dreams, right? :)

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    1. What an amazing diversity in your kids Diane - I love that they are all following their own paths and they are so different from the norm and so different from each other - something to be really proud of!

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  5. This is something I've said more than once to young people I know whose parents want them to do this or that for a living. It's an important thing for everyone to remember, though.
    Carol
    http://carolcassara.com/identity/

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    1. I think they need people like you in their corner Carol - someone who can speak up for them and help them not be railroaded by parents who have good hearts but wrong motives.

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  6. Yes, it can be very difficult to let it unfold...but in the end, it is the only choice.

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    1. And that choice can change at any time Tam - I'm sure most of us are in completely different places than where we'd expected when we were 17 - and that's not a bad thing :)

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  7. There is that fine line of wanting the best and shielding from hardship to letting go. As much as we can not dictate we can not take absolute credit for their accomplishments and failures and have their life become our life!

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    1. So many parents live their lives through their children and that is kind of sad. We need to be able to separate ourselves from them, enjoy their successes, but not try to own them as our own.

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  8. My daughter got right out and started working at 16 and now has a successful career. I've always been amazed by her. My son joined the Air Force at 18 and has been moving up the ranks. He's now 26. I'm so glad they didn't follow me and want to be actors. Pheew!

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    1. It's funny to see our kids take completely different paths to the ones we took and watch them succeed. I'm so glad mine didn't follow in my footsteps either Rebecca!

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  9. How very right, you are. I was raised to believe I'd never live-up to my sister, who was viewed as perfect by my father. I did everything I could think of to be just like her. Then three years ago, I had the biggest transforming wake-up call. Since then, I realize I am Glenda. I had to learn to love me from scratch. As a mother of two sons, I never want them to experience what I did as a child. Great post! I wrote a book about my journey called A Place Called Peace.

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    1. Midlife is such a wonderful opportunity to right some of the injustices we've lived with for decades. I'm so happy you found your own place in the sun Glenda - and that it's a peaceful (and very stylish!) one :)

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  10. I agree that our children need to have freedom to explore their own interests and dreams and it isn't often going to match what we might want for them. I'm delighted that young people (especially young women) have more options now than they did when I was growing up. I am proud of my own son who is an engineer-stay-at-home-dad. I just want him to be happy.

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    1. I love that your son has put his career on hold to parent his family and allow your daughter-in-law to achieve her dreams. It's wonderful to see our kids act nobly and from the heart isn't it Molly?

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  11. It can be so hard to just let our kids live their own lives but it's the best thing we can do for them. We can't put our own expectations and desires onto them. They deserve their own!

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    1. Exactly Lois - sometimes you want to give them a kick in the pants, but if you've taught them to be responsible and to contribute, then they seem to get their heads around making life choices and surprisingly are very good at it!

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  12. Lovely post! Totally agree, we're only here to guide our kids, they should have the freedom to choose what they want and what direction they want for their career or lives. #LifeLovingLinkie

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    1. So true - we guide them but don't control all their choices or expect them to live the life we have planned out in our head for them.

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  13. As parents our job is t guide our children to find their North Star and travel their journey to success as early in their lives as possible. I think those parents did great guiding their son...If he didnt like it, he would have rebelled. So I guess it was his destiny too. Thanks for sharing at the Pit Stop!
    The Crew :)

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    1. I think it would be a shame to be a child who has to rebel against his parents so that he can seek his own way in life Julie - how much nicer would it be to actually guide your child into a future that is geared to their strengths and likes rather than the parents desires?

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  14. You are so very right, but we have to know what their desires are, right Leanne? If we dont then I imagine its okay to plant a seed of what our personal dreams were...often times the apple doesnt fall far from the tree...so they pick up n out "dreams" make them their own and grow to be awesome people :) Bliss!

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    1. I like the idea of planting seeds Julie - you never know what can develop if you quietly water them but don't force the issue.

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  15. Absolutely Leanne. I was very lucky that my parents never expected us to do a specific career. They just wanted us to do something and earn an honest day's wage. They didn't even discourage me when I said I wanted to be an actress. Luckily for me (and them) I changed my mind on that one

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie

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    1. I think you would have made a great actress Sally - there is a little bit of the theatre in all of us bloggers isn't there? :)

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