Letting children be themselves

Posted by Samantha on September 30, 2011 in Expectations, Letting Go, Trust |

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

Thomas Merton, Anglo-American monk, poet, activist (1915 – 1968)

How difficult it sometimes is to let our children be perfectly themselves.

I’m sure we all know someone who is moulding their child in their image.  Some child who plays piano or does ballet or learns Mandarin because their parent did (or didn’t!).

But how many of us are full of expectations for our children that we fail to keep sufficiently to ourselves?

The data suggests that children in the US and the UK are increasingly unhappy and stressed. And the reason why is not a mystery.  They are actually telling us that the pressure to perform and to live up to their parents’ expectations – academically, physically and socially – is taking its toll.

I believe we are crushing our children’s spirits with our relentless pursuit of perfection and our materialistic notion of success.

We may say our behaviour is driven by our love for our children.  But it is not.  It is driven by our fears for our children.

We are afraid that they will not be happy.  Or that they will not be successful.  Or that they will not make us proud of them.  We are afraid that our children will not be ok unless we push them and prod them, chastise and cajole them.

Our children will do much better if we stop trying to twist them to fit our own image.

If we accept them for who they truly are, and let them really feel that, then they will be truly themselves.

And then we can sit back and just look, in humble awe, at the beauty and wonder that is each and every one of our precious children.

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