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March 12, 2013

How to Support Your Kid’s Wishes and Dreams

Image: Flickr/Raphael Goetter

Image: Flickr/Raphael Goetter

Remember that moment when you first held your son or your daughter in your arms for the first time? There may have been a moment when you looked into their beautiful eyes and you thought, “Wow, what a miracle!” As you pondered what a wonderful gift you had received, you probably started dreaming about their future. What would it hold for your newly born child? You, like many other parents, started thinking about all of the things you wanted for them. As parents, we want our kids to be successful. We want them to be well-rounded, well-spoken and well-versed. Maybe, with some work, they could be the president of the United States. Perhaps, with some discipline, the next great sports legend.
Is there anything strange with dreaming about the future we want for our children? Well, no. Getting lost in the fantasy of our desires is pretty normal. We cross a line, however, when what we want becomes our primary focus for them. Because soon our behavior will follow suit. We typically can see this played out by many (not all) of the Toddler and Tiaras moms and dads.
It becomes important that we begin to assign some space in our mind for what our kids want. What are their dreams, goals and expectations in life? Though they may have natural talent for basketball or baseball, do they even like to play? Yes, you might have passed on the athletic genes, but Junior may not have an interest in scoring touchdowns. You are convinced Little Cindy could be the next Cindy Crawford, but the last thing she wants to do is to have her picture taken. What do we do with this? What we can do is put our wants and desires in a secondary position and begin to elevate their dreams.
As parents, we are not responsible for what our children decide to become, but we are responsible to them to help them figure out the best path to take. So how can we help support our kids wishes and dreams?
  1. Listen. Have a conversation about their wishes and dreams for the future. When they open up and tell you, just listen. JUST LISTEN. Resist the urge to suddenly appear as the resource that they need to get there. The coaches that make the most impact are the ones that are chosen, not the ones who force themselves upon their team. Allow your child the opportunity to choose you. The more they believe that you are someone that listens to them, the greater the chance will be that they will come to you again.
  2. Ask. Now would be the time to begin asking them some questions. Not third-degree type stuff, but a simple inquiry about how they believe they can achieve what they want most. “So you want to make the Honor Roll? What do you think you need to do in order to get there? Is there any way that I can help?” Helping them begin to formulate a plan is one of the best ways that we can support them in their quest. When you do this, you are adhering to the old Chinese proverb that tells us, “When you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”  Once they learn the concept, they can always return to the process.
  3. Be Present. When they decide what they want and how they want to get there, be a witness for them along the way. When we learn to calmly watch our children, we can enjoy simply being in the moment with them. Our calm will lead our children to see us as a resource. When we are present with them, we will witness their success and their failure; their jubilation and disappointment. We are there to help them navigate their way through whatever life hands them.
We support our kids’ wishes and dreams by helping them build their own futures. When their goals belong to them, they will care for them; they will protect them. Let’s witness the greatness within them. Let’s celebrate when they finally discover it for themselves.

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