We must be careful not to put the weight of our life’s disappointments on our children by pushing them to live the dreams that we didn't make come true for ourselves.
Sure, we want to teach our children of their great potential. We want them to know that they can do anything they set their minds to doing. But we cannot use them as a depository for all of our failures. And we mustn’t push them to take on goals that we didn't meet for ourselves in our lifetime.
I don’t suggest that we do not want them to become ‘better’ than we are. I just mean that we should teach them to create goals of their own and encourage their pursuit of their own achievements.
Sometimes in parenting, we pour our dissatisfaction at the feet of our children. Not only do we tell them all the things we wanted to do, we also give them our excuses of why we did not. Often in these discussions, the causes of our failures are other people or circumstances. A spouse was unsupportive. Our parents didn’t enroll us in the right school. The coach didn’t play us. The criminal record got in the way. The bank didn’t approve the loan.
It is uncommon that we admit that the actual hindrance was our lack of concerted effort, consistency or personal investment. No. We seldom admit that our goals were only clever ideas that we never built the foundation to attain. We place the blame outside of ourselves.
One of my favorite quote states, “Excuses are tools of the incompetent which build monuments of nothingness and bridges to nowhere. Those who specialize in these tools of incompetence seldom become anything at all.”
We cannot help our children get anywhere on excuses. We show them not only that excuses are acceptable, but that we actually possess little responsibility and authority in the trajectory of our own lives. We teach them that other people or circumstances possess a greater influence in our success than our own self determination and hard work. But this is untrue.
When we indulge in excuse making, we make the case for our own helplessness, dependency on others, the perfect circumstances or just plain luck. Instead we should create our own luck and teach our children to do the same.
Inadvertently we can create dissonance in our children by telling them they can do anything or be anything and then tell them of our unattained goals at the behest of others. Then they too may look for opportunities to bow out when circumstances aren't ideal or if the process isn't easy.
Many adolescents blame their shortcomings on their teachers, classmates, coaches and parents. They become paralyzed when prodded to answer what their contribution could have been to have had better outcomes. At young ages, they are very comfortable excusing their action or inaction based on others. And often, we parents, enable their excuse making because we do our own.
If it happens that we did not fulfill our dreams, there is no harm in sharing what they were. This can be its own source of inspiration for our children. We can create teachable moments recounting the action steps we didn’t take or the fears that hindered us from reaching our goals. Yet an even better teachable moment is showing our children the second chances we give ourselves by trying again.
It's never to late too get a high school or college diploma or try to develop our own businesses. There is no expiration date for self advancement. And when our children see our spirit of possibility, they can be encouraged in the development of their own.
They can be inspired by our continuous effort to actualize our goals. In this, we set a standard of being accountable for all that happens to and for us. And we create a base of liability for them to do the same.
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Nurah strives to enlighten, empower and engage her readers with the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her own experiences and those of others from whom she has learned.