We grew up being told “Don’t make the same mistakes I made”, “Don’t follow in my footsteps”, “I expect more of you”. You put all this pressure on the children and sometimes it can make them feel like they just can’t measure up to all of our expectations. That’s why we make it easy for them.
As parents we always feel under pressure to do things the right way. Teach the children right from wrong. Guide them so they don’t make the same mistakes as you, probably end up disappointed if they do. The past often gets thrown in our faces. “Well you did it as a kid” or “you were doing worse things at my age” or “you’re not better than me” It’s hard for them to understand that just because we did things in our past doesn’t mean they need to do the same thing. We learned a lot of the times, the hard way. I’m all for letting children make their own mistakes and follow their own paths, it’s also our job to simply show them the way the best we can. All you can do is let go of the reigns and hope for the best, hope you did at least something right all those years. You can’t keep all the bad at bay. Your protection is limited. I admit I vow to always do my best to try and protect them for as long as I can in any way they will allow, but not to the extent that it causes strife in our relationships as a parent and child.
I don’t have any teenagers yet, but I’m not far off. This is my observation of my life experiences and the life of someone close to me. I do not negate the fact that it will be walking in those shoes soon enough.
I’ve obviously had my own skeletons in my closet. Unlike some parents I don’t deny that I’m not perfect, as no individual truly is. I’ve been straightforward and honest while raising my children, because I believe that this is the best trait to instill in a child, honesty. In simple non-specific terms I’ve told them the pros and cons of some of my past actions that are similar to things they go through. I’ve explained to them the cause and effects that everything has. I want them to understand and weigh their own options when they reach certain points in their lives. Of course, because I’ve done this I have created a bond with my children where they know they can come to me or their dad if they ever struggle with what the right thing is. Quite frankly, the right thing to them may not be the right thing to us because they are not us.
I didn’t have a strong communication with my parents growing up, I felt rebellious for always being told what NOT to do. I don’t tell my children not to do things necessarily, I explain some things that could happen if they do; The circumstances, the consequences. So rather than that compelling feeling that something is taboo or constantly being told no, it’s wrong, etc. They can now exercise the choice to either do it or not do it, knowing exactly what awaits after making their choice.
I can only hope that this strategy will work out for us as parents in the future. That we have raised intelligent optimistic individuals who will do their best to make their own right choices. Whatever flows best in their lives and hoping that joy and success come from their actions in all aspects. I can’t be there to hold their hand forever, but I will be there whenever they need me, I promise them that.
My children are learning that there is always either a positive or negative or even neutral reaction to every action. I have taught them honesty, respect and dedication the best I can and I’ll continue to do that. My husband and I have instilled these qualities in our children so that they can have these tools when they are growing into the young adults they will become. So they can pass down everything we taught them to their children and hopefully continue to teach good qualities into the next generations.
Everyone parents differently, everyone lives differently, everyone wants what’s best for their children and everyone wants it differently. Our goal as a parent is to educate our children the best we can to their actions and hoping we’ve done something right so that they continue to learn and develop into strong responsible individuals.
So maybe the key isn’t to keep them from making the same mistakes we made. Hell a lot of the mistakes we made would mean they possibly wouldn’t even be here. Everything I’ve done led me to where I am in life right now. I’ve come a long way. So I believe I shouldn’t be trying to stop them from not doing everything I’ve ever done, but to make sure they are educated to what it means for the choices they do decide to make. I cannot judge them. I cannot shame them. I cannot disregard them as my children for following their own path.
They are the next generation. All I can say is. I’m doing my best to make them the best part of it.