Dreams for the FuturePosted: October 4, 2012
When we bring children into the world, no doubt, we have hopes and dreams for their future. We expect and hope for the very best that life has to offer for them. I recently saw a very emotional post on Facebook from a mother of a child who has cystic fibrosis, saying that she wants to keep her child away from things that might make the child sick. Her arguement was that she brought the child into this world, and she wants to keep her healthy in order to–in the words of the loving, and well-meaning mama–“see her live out all of my dreams that I have for her future.” Does anyone see what I see in that statement? It’s the child’s future that the mom was talking about, but the post was centered around the mom doing what she thinks is best, in order to see her child live out the dreams that she has for the child.
It’s our job as parents to raise our children to be intelligent, responsible people who take care of themselves and have success in life. That is a pretty big task in itself. We make that job harder on ourselves, and certainly on our child, when we make parenting to be anything more than that. Instead of focusing on the future that we want our children to have, we need to give them unconditional love, to support their uniqueness, to support their interests, and to support their future, whatever that may be.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have secret hopes for my son. How awesome it would be if he were a professional athlete! I’m sure that he enjoys sports so much in part because my husband and I love sports. And while some of a child’s interests come from the parents, it’s important for us to support interests that we don’t share just as much as we support those interests that we do share. For example, I have no real desire to create my own board games. I’m perfectly fine playing the games that already exist, like Scrabble or Chutes and Ladders. But my son loves to make up his own games, sometimes with very complex rules that I may not understand. But I do my best to play along, rather than pushing a game that I already know and enjoy. There is a fine line between including our children in our own interests and making those interests become the only ones that we focus on with our children.
As another example, I want to have grandchildren. I want to have grandbabies to rock when it’s past my time to have any more babies. I want to have grandkids to delight with gifts on Christmas morning, long past the time when my boys stop believing in Santa. But what if my boys don’t want children? What if that just isn’t in the cards for them? I have to accept the fact that it may not be what they want, and I will have to try not to force that on them. Raising children is no easy task, and I would not want to pressure either of my boys to become a father, no matter how much I wish they would.
Some parents dream that their children will go to college. That they will get married. That they will find a good-paying job. That they will live nearby. That they will have a nice home. But what if the child would rather go to beauty school than a university? What if they don’t find a compatible relationship? What if they prefer to work for a low-paying, non-profit organization? What if their dream is to live in Japan? What if they fancy a small, cramped apartment in the city? Are we going to be disappointed? I think in most cases, we will be proud of them, no matter what they decide to become in the future, so isn’t it best to let them have theirown dreams from the beginning?
Everyone has a purpose in this world. They may be born with it. They may develop it as a child. They may seek out that purpose as an adult. If we are too focused on what we want for our children, they may miss out on finding their own purpose, and living out the dreams that they were made to fulfill.
How can we support our children’s dreams?