Your Children Are Not You

My dad and me - We didn't take that train ride, but he was
an awesome father who wanted us to be the best us we could be.
When I was a girl, my parents took us shopping in a quaint town that had a sightseeing, vintage train ride.  The train went nowhere of any importance.  It traveled for about 20 minutes, turned around and came back.  Oh, how I wanted to take that train ride!  My parents said, “No. It’s a waste of time and money.”  It is very likely that they didn’t have the extra money to spend.  So what did I do?  I grew up and took my boys on that train.

When I was in middle school, I wanted to learn French.  My parents said that Spanish would be more useful.  Yes – you guessed it.  I took Spanish, but my boys were allowed to take French.  My boys still say it is their primary example of me trying to be a different parent than my parents (who, by the way, were terrific parents other than that train and French thing).

Most parents can recite a list of things they did the same as their parents and things they intentionally did differently.  That is evolution and, if done wisely, helps us to improve our parenting as one generation takes over from the last.  When not done wisely, however, it can be a dangerous path.

Your children are not you, and they cannot make up for the stings of your childhood.  Parents sometimes confide in me that they struggled in school and are determined that their children do not.  Others worry that their children will suffer the social stigma of being unpopular as they did in their past.  At what point do we cross the line and set a stage for our children that is impossible to achieve because it actually has nothing to do with who they are?

Your children are not you, and they do not have the same baggage as you do.  Be careful not to visit your scars on them.  They will end up with their own scars.  There is no need to pile yours on top of theirs. 

Your children are not you, and they do not need to be smothered in an attempt to protect them from all hurt.  They need to cope with who they are in this world and not become fearful of those things that scare you.  They need the space to be hurt and learn that they can survive it.  They need to develop coping skills so that someday, when you are not here to be their shield and think for them, they will be able to carry on.

Your children are not you, and they were not born to rectify mistakes of the past.  They are the future.  If you really want them to lead better lives, take a good look at them.  Know who they are and not who you don’t want them to be. 

Albert Cullum, an educational innovator of the 1960’s, taught that every child has a “touch of greatness.”  Find it.  Help your children to nurture it.  That “touch of greatness” holds the secret to their happiness and success.  Your past does not. 


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Comments

  1. Fantastic post and one that resonates with me. I know I have in the past unwittingly projected my childhood self onto my kids with disappointments, fears and worries that I had. What a great reminder that they are NOT me. They are individuals with their own stories and lives and certainly don't need my baggage.

    I love the last line, "Your children are not you, and they were not born to rectify mistakes of the past. They are the future. If you really want them to lead better lives, take a good look at them. Know who they are and not who you don’t want them to be." Very well put. Thanks! xx

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