The idea that parents try to live out their dreams through their children goes back at least as far as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, both of whom theorised about the phenomenon.
The psychologist Tanya Byron stated that when parents put too much pressure on children to succeed at a young age it will lead to a rise in levels of teenage stress and anxiety.
I was interviewed in 2012 by The Sydney Morning Herald for an article headlined, ‘Clone complex damages children, experts warn’. Unfortunately the dangers are just as real and happening today.
I believe, parents must recognise their children as individuals in their own right. Our children are not moulded in our image, they are not driven by our desires or fears, our likes and dislikes, and they do not necessarily have the same natural talents or interests we do. There may be similarities, however, our children are unencumbered by our experiences, life rules and limitations. This is to be embraced and explored – not exploited.
Susan Newman Ph.D said, “Parents work exceedingly hard to point their children in one direction or another to help them excel. In doing so, we have taken much of the fun out of being a parent and lost sight of what might make our children truly joyful.”
I suggest you can begin talking to your child today and find out what they like to do best. Once you know what is meaningful to your child arrange activities, conversations and tasks around this.
By listening, by being interested in their point of view, by taking time to understand their developmental needs – whilst keeping our feet firmly in the now – we are more able to achieve exactly what we are aiming for. And, what is it most parents aim for? The moment when we proudly reflect on being a part of the life of a happy, healthy, caring and satisfied adult. A person who has found success and comfort that is meaningful for them, that child you helped raise and nurture.
What are your thoughts? How do you support your child’s dreams?