The very nature of parenting requires us to think through our decisions thoroughly, but also accept that we will get some things wrong. There is no official handbook telling us what to do. As a result, we listen to friends, co-workers and other parents. Using these people as resources can inadvertently cause self-doubt, anxiety and concern about what others think about us.
When we ask for advice, we also allow judgment because asking for help requires discussing an issue that can make us feel c. No one likes to feel vulnerable, including parents. Afraid of being judged by other parents, we make decisions for our kids that will improve how we would like our peers to see us, but this is not always in our children’s best interest. Pressuring our kids to be better will make us look better and feel less vulnerable.
Whether competing in sports, academics or with siblings, the bottom line is the same: Kids feel the pressure from their parents. The truth is that our children want to make us proud and want us to be happy with them. Getting caught up in whether they are faster, smarter or better than someone else is more about the goals and expectations that we set for our children.
Seeing a child suffer from trying to reach an unattainable goal set for them by his or her parent is heartbreaking. There is nothing worse than seeing a child break down who is genuinely trying to reach an unattainable goal. Pushing a child beyond his or her natural abilities, academic or athletic, only makes things worse. Paying thousands of dollars for training and tutoring adds to the pressure and the frustration.
Reversing the pattern of pressuring our kids is surprisingly easy. The first step is to change the focus from expectations to acceptance. If we accept, for example, that it is not our child’s personal goal to make the travel soccer team, we can stop expecting them to put in hours of training to qualify and free ourselves from the frustrations and anger that arise when they don’t perform.
The second step is to respect our kids for who they are. Comparing them to their peers is something I strongly advise against. It doesn’t allow them to be judged on their own merits.
We often get caught up in the demands of our own lives. Too busy to stop for a moment to genuinely show interest in and excitement for our children’s endeavors. Children want their parents to be happy and proud. They will work harder to achieve goals when we are engaged and encouraging.
Remember, trial and error is a part of parenting. When we are honest and engaged with our kids, they will put more effort to be honest with us.