What dream or expectations do you have for your kid? Caution. You are probably well-meaning and only want the best for your child but be sure you know if you are imposing your dream on your child. When you put you child in a position to repeat your accomplishments or to accomplish something you did not you may be using him for your own end. This is unhealthy love. Please allow me to share with you a very common way in which this can happen.
Healthy love does not attempt to fulfill your dream through your child. It is easy to understand how a parent might unconsciously try to live his life through his child. Most parents want the best for their child. Many want their children to have life as good as or better than they did growing up. They want them to have opportunities for education and success that they may have struggled for. The bottom line is they often want life to be easy for their child.
There is nothing wrong with wanting good things and success for your child. But, you may need to think hard about your definition of success and what is involved in accomplishing it. Parents tend to define success according to our own struggles and experiences. This can be a real trap as we think about dreams for our child. This can set us up to try to live out our dreams, accomplish things we didn’t do, and build a name for our self through our child.
Here are some reminders which may help you avoid trying to fulfill your dreams through your child.
First, true and lasting success is found only in our relationships with God, our self and others ( Matthew 22:34-40).Does this biblical concept guide your understanding of real success?
Second, your child is a gift to you. He is not your property or an instrument you can use to fulfill your dreams or make up for your disappointments in life. He belongs to God and to himself.
Third, God has a plan for your child and has chosen you as his parent to help him become all God intended him to be.
Many children grow old striving to fix that deficit in their parent’s life but never receive the sense of approval and acceptance they so desperately seek. A child needs acceptance and the right to be himself and pursue his own dreams rather than to feel obligated to fix the disappointments or fulfill dreams of his parent. To attempt to live for a parent is an emotional dead-end street.
Is it healthy to be your child’s “best friend”? If you want to love your child in a way that is good for him you need to avoid things that may harm him. Being his “best friend” is one of those things you need to avoid.
Being your child’s “best friend” is not a part of healthy love. Your child needs you to be his parent. You are not equals. You are the authority for your child and both of you should always understand that boundary. One day you may become your child’s “best friend” but this is reserved for a time when you are both grown and they are no longer under your authority.
This may sound harsh but it is for your child’s good that you not make decisions based on whether or not he/she will agree with or like you for what you do. Your love for your child should have a balance of friendliness and firmness. Going too far in either direction,crossing either of those boundaries creates problems for your child.
Your child may be very winsome and adorable. However, they do not generally look out for their own best interest. No, they learn how to charm and manipulate rather early in order to get what they want when they want it. Don’t take seriously their promise to” be your best friend” if you will let them have what they want. They’re not capable of being a real friend to you. Neither are they very capable of judging what is healthy for them.
If you are somehow wanting your child to be your best friend you may want to ask this question: “What is this about?” There could be many answers to this. You may be divorced or in a lonely marriage. You may not like to deal with confrontation with your child. You may feel it’s your role to make your child happy. Remember, trying to make your child happy with you may ultimately lead to their ruin.
Keep the lines clear as to who is the parent and who is the child. Your job is to be an adult and to assist your child to grow to be as healthy and functional as possible. Sometimes this will mean your child won’t like your decisions and will not claim you as their friend or parent. You must be emotionally mature enough to deal with their displeasure without giving in to their threats and demands. If you want to be your child’s “real” best friend, concentrate on being his parent.
How does your child handle success or failure? Is there any connection to how you handle success or failure?
Your child’s view of his performance in school, sports, music, relationships and various other pursuits affects the way he sees himself. Obviously, if your child is able to have some level of accomplishment in these areas he gains confidence and, therefore, tends to feel good about himself. Over time the ability to accomplish may lead to venturing out into more challenging pursuits. All children like to accomplish and the feelings of pride and confidence that come with it.
You can greatly aid your child in this area by involving him or her in helping around the house. Your child wants to feel big and able to do important things. Start early to teach them to be a “helper.” Teach them to fold clothes, work in the yard, load the dishwasher and do various other tasks. Second, choose tasks they are capable of doing and congratulate them when they accomplish their work.
As you involve your child in helpful activities around the house you are doing several important things in addition to helping your child’s sense of himself. You are preparing him to learn to work. You are also demonstrating that families can and need to share in the work of the family. And, you are also preparing your child for the time he will become independent of you.
Defeat is difficult for all of us to accept. However,an occasional defeat can be a good thing if handled correctly. But, I’m not concerned here with the occasional loss of a game or getting a grade in school that is less than desirable. What should concern us as parents is a pattern of defeat which discourages our child to the point they feel hopeless. Your child can play on a team that loses every game but not have a defeated attitude about life. Why? Because other aspects of his life where he feels successful and secure can counterbalance occasional losses.
But, how do we create a balance which helps our child gain confidence without becoming prideful? Emphasize the the need to be grateful and recognize God as the source of our gifts and accomplishments. This will guard against inordinate pride and the sense that our worth is based on what we can do.
Do you ever say “I’m sorry” to your child?
Let’s face it, we aren’t going to be perfect parents. That means we make mistakes; do and say things we shouldn’t say and do to our kids. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be the best parent we can be because our child needs and deserves our best effort.
One important fact to keep in mind is that parenting is “on-the-job-training.” If you learn from your mistakes you should get better at it with more experience. Interesting, isn’t it? Your child is learning how to grow up while you are learning how to be a good parent.
But what do we do when we “lose it” with our child? How do we begin to correct things with our child, when we overreact or fail to act when we should do so? There is a one-word answer for this question: APOLOGIZE. That’s right, admit you didn’t handle the situation well and tell your child you are sorry for the way you acted toward him.
But you protest, “What if my child was doing something wrong?” I agree that your child’s wrong behavior needs to be corrected. But, maybe yours does also. Being the parent doesn’t mean you are immune from mistakes that need correction. So, when you mishandle a situation with your child, correct yourself and apologize for your bad behavior. Take your own medicine and attempt to not repeat the behavior for which you had to apologize.
Does apologizing diminish your authority with your child? Not at all. Apologizing establishes a sense of fairness in which your child comes to understand you want the best for him. Learning to say “I’m sorry” also means you will hold your self accountable for your actions. This helps develop a sense of trust that you will act in his best interest.
Perhaps, most importantly, your ability to “own your stuff” by apologizing will allow your child not to have to internalize your problems. This means he can develop emotional patterns that are healthy and not be controlled by behaviors that are reactions to things you need to resolve.
One of the greatest challenges of human relationships is to keep our personal stuff from creating unnecessary issues. In other words, we need to learn to own our stuff. For example, if you are person who always needs to be in charge, you can make others uncomfortable with your need to control or have things your way.
Refusing to recognize and deal with our “stuff” may cause others to have little to do with us. However, our children cannot easily avoid us and may choose unhealthy behaviors to deal with our stuff.
Children often adapt unhealthy reactions to a parent’s angry tirades, abuse, anxiety or any number of other issues. One example of this is the child who becomes a “pleaser.” This child doesn’t dare do or say anything that might create discomfort for someone even if he/she has been highly offended by their actions.
How does a child come to be this way? Most likely they learned early to stuff her feelings out of fear of setting off a parent’s explosive temper. Their “pleaser” ways may protect them from the parent’s anger but can have a big downside. They may come to believe they can’t have strong negative feelings. So, feelings are stuffed or the person can become passive aggressive. Certainly, they can’t take the risk of expressing their feelings directly and openly. Continuing on this path of stuffing their anger may lead to avoiding all kinds of conflicts and develop very shallow relationships in life.
What do you think could happen if an angry parent becomes able to own their stuff? It would mean they could learn to apologize and the child wouldn’t have had to internalize the parent’s stuff. It would mean the child could grow up with a more balanced emotional life.
Is there some emotional baggage you need to own? What, if any, unresolved anger or insecurity do you need to address so your kid won’t have to deal with it? If you don’t own it, it is quite likely your child, and perhaps others, will have to deal with it.
Successful parenting starts with you, the parent. Your character, who you are deep inside determines what you value most and how you will live. Character also determines the kind of parent you will be.
So, who are you? What values are at the core of your being? Are you kind and gentle? Selfish, arrogant or prideful? Are you a know-it-all or are you open to learning new ways of thinking and doing things? Most importantly, does your character resemble God’s view of who he is capable of making you?
God knows each of us just as we are. He knows our secrets, strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, He also knows our potential and wants us to continually grow toward being that person. Like a loving parent, He hopes for and dreams of the fulfillment of our greatest potential.
What is God’s view of the potential you? He sees you as becoming more and more changed into the character of Jesus, his son. Paul captures this great vision of us in Romans 8:29 ” For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….”(NIV).
In the larger passage from which this statement comes, God promises to work in every circumstance in our life to promote this growth of Christ-like character in us. He is able to use all the difficulties, pain and disappointments to shape our character. Our character, formed around faith in Christ, is his greatest concern for us.
Where do you start with this change of character which will gradually transform you and the way you parent? You begin with the surrender of your life to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you haven’t already made this decision, I encourage you to begin this wonderful journey of forgiveness and grace right now.
Have you ever tried to work a box puzzle without the box top to guide you? Have you tried to go somewhere you haven’t been before without a GPS, map or good directions to help you? Frustrating isn’t it?
Many things we do in life require some amount of direction to ensure a chance at success. Parenting your child is no different. Assuming we will be good parents simply because we have brought a child into the world is foolishness. That assumption alone indicates we don’t have much of a clue about where we are going and what we need to do.
For centuries the North Star served as a constant nighttime guide to give direction to mariners at sea. They navigated the dangerous waters and steered their vessels according to the dependable heavenly bodies. To do otherwise would be the height of arrogance and foolishness, putting their whole mission in jeopardy.
Is there a North Star for parents to follow in rearing our children? Yes, there is. This concept is the focal point of the meaning of life. To understand it and live by it brings blessings to you and your child. To ignore it dooms you to a journey without a trustworthy guide to do one of the most important things a human being is ever called on to do, parenting a child.
Do you want to know where to find the true North Star for parenting? Begin by reading the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40. Here’s a clue about what you’ll find, relationships. What is your “north star,” that which informs how you live and how you guide your child?
What is Parenting About?
Perhaps the most central question we need to ask ourselves as parents is: “What is parenting really about?” In other words, what is the main role or central purpose I, the parent, need to fulfill in relation to this child that has been entrusted to me?
Unfortunately, for some reason, this may be an area of concern which some parents never consciously consider. Many are so caught up with their personal agendas and the busyness of life that they don’t take time to talk about, much less put into action plans related to their primary role as a parent.
I would venture to say that many parents don’t have much of a clue as to what their main purpose as a parent really is. With our society’s rapid advance toward materialism and secularism it is no wonder that we are losing our sense of what life is really about.
This secular mindset defines what many think life is really about. Consequently, they rear their children in this godless approach to life where all values are relative and human life itself is becoming less and less valuable.
What do you think is the bottom line in parenting? What is parenting about to you? My next blog, “North Star Parenting” will attempt to provide a direction for you to consider.
Where does successful parenting Start? Does it begin at the birth of a child? Having a child makes you a parent but does it make you a successful one? Does it begin with reading books on child development or parenting strategies or techniques? While this can prove helpful, good parenting must begin somewhere else.
Then, where does successful parenting begin? It begins with the person you see in the mirror. That’s right. Good parenting begins with the person you are. Who you are, your character, is the most important issue in parenting. No matter what you “know” about parenting, no matter how prepared you think you are to be a good parent, the real and most important issue is who you are as a person.
Character is the ultimate issue of life. It is not what we accumulate or how successful we are by society’s standards that are most important. All those we leave behind when we die. But character is another matter. That is who we are and is all we will take with us. And, our character is our most important legacy.
If you have been entrusted to rear children you should pause to consider the meaning of your existence and seek to mold your character to that purpose. In practical terms this means to commit our life to God and his lordship in our life. Living out this commitment means to accept Christ as your savoir and grow in his likeness and to genuinely treat others as you want to be treated. This will bring your life into conformity with Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:34-40.Once you have committed your life to live out life’s true purpose, then and only then can you guide your child toward that purpose. Think about it. Do it for yourself and your child and all those you love.