Don't turn your children into you...

Each of us is a product of our upbringing and circumstances. Invariably, therefore, we all have our set of likes, opinions and preferences. Some of these have been passed on to us through the elder generation while others are a product of our thoughts and perceptions. It is this mixed baggage that we carry as a person that stays with us when we become parents. This baggage, however, has serious potential to influence our children in a big way.  
I recently read an article that says "do not pass on your hatred to your children." It details how parents invariably tend to instill in their children, the dislike they have towards certain things or people. The author's point being - "Just because you don't like something, do not make your children dislike it or just never expose them to it at all!"

I agree with the author. In fact, going one step further, I would say this also applies to the things we like. Case in point - Last week I spoke with a friend of mine who mentioned that her 5 year old twins have recently joined a dancing class and they just love freestyle dancing. My logical question to her was, obviously, if she prefers her daughters to be trained in the dance form then? Imagine my surprise when my friend said, "No! I need to get them trained in classical dance first, and then, maybe they can learn whatever else they want to." Now, this said friend of mine is a trained classical dancer. However, as a matter of choice, she has not pursued the art any further than her initial public performance. And yet, she insists that her daughters be trained in a classical dance form before the girls do what they really like!
Knowingly or unknowingly, most of us do the same thing. Be it our favourite books or our favourite music or our favourite foods, we introduce our children to the world that we are familiar with. Do we really try to understand what they like when we expose them to the many different things that we were or were not exposed to as children? How many of us really let our children decide for themselves what they want? How many of us really approve of the choices our children make and then are happy to live with these choices?
There are many parents today who say that they try and give their children the best of all things. They are also of the opinion that it makes sense to introduce  children to as many varied activities and skills as possible so the children can decide what they are interested in. But when the child actually thinks that there is something that he/ she likes and wants to do it full time, we suddenly become aware that we have a responsibility as parents and that it is up to us to decide whether our children should or should not do what they want to do.
We invariably end up comparing their choices with 'ideal' choices and see if their choices fall short somewhere. It is very magnanimous to say "let my child decide what is good for him/ her; I will stand by it." But when it comes to actually standing by your child's choice, there are very few who practice what they preach.
Be it the case of a five year old preferring a particular dance form over another or in later life a son or daughter choosing a life partner; we, parents - as someone the child looks up to to approve of his choices - tend to take pride and sometimes even advantage of our rights as parents. As I never fail to mention it to anyone who listens; we, as parents, are here to make things easy for our children, not difficult. Our job is to teach them to be independent, be their own person, make their own decisions........and then when they actually do that...have some faith in your own teachings, and let them find their own way.
On this note, I remember an old television advert that I had seen as a child...about six blind men and an elephant. The men are supposed to touch the elephant and say what they think the elephant is like. Each of them, ends up feeling and touching one part of the elephant......one says "the elephant is like a pillar," as he touches only the feet. Another, who touches the ears, says "the elephant is like a huge plant leaf"; while yet another who touches the body says "it’s like a wall" and so on.
So, what happened here? Everyone pictured the elephant based on only what they felt or knew about. We are all similar to these blind men. We perceive the world only based on what we know. Agreed, we look out for our children, but, step back and think.....is it so bad if they discovered a world of their own? Is it necessary that you have to always dictate your choices to them? So what if they go wrong.....so long as they are doing nothing inappropriate,  let them go ahead and see the world for themselves.
May be they will be better than us at it. Let them take a chance......after all, you always have their back, don't you?

Comments

  1. Very well said... I would rather put it this way" we try teaching our children a very ideal way of living... But in the meantime forget the fact that what we teach is not what we ourself as a parent practice and children first learn from our actions

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  2. That's true....we need to change before we expect our kids to.....

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