ParentTip: You Can’t Singlehandedly Influence Who Your Child Becomes
By Rachel Simmons
ParentTip: Do you find yourself pushing hard for your child to adopt an interest, pursue an accomplishment, or reach a milestone when they don’t seem ready? Consider this: one of the most destructive beliefs a parent can harbor is that we can singlehandedly influence who our children become. This false belief is reinforced by an industry of parenting experts (yes, guilty as charged) who suggest that with the right expertise, you can learn the parenting skills to “make” a child do anything.
While thinking this may lead to big highs when our kid succeeds in the ways we want, it also creates ruthless self-criticism when our child “fails” to hit a milestone we’ve set them up to reach. And — more importantly — it sets up our children to believe our approval (and love) are contingent upon their listening to our interests and readiness — not theirs.
It’s not our kids’ job to honor a developmental schedule of our choosing. That said, have you ever introduced something to your child, only to get a blank stare — then, by the time you’ve long forgotten it, they’re suddenly interested?
That’s your sign that, with some humility and gentleness, with some waiting, with some observation of what your child is ready for and when, you can partner with your child’s development — instead of trying to drive it. Often enough, they will get there on their own. If they don’t, they need to know they are loved — and enough — no matter what.