At the moment my children are at an age where I can comfort them, fix their problems and provide them answers … but what happens when this is no longer the case?
What happens when their problems can no longer be fixed with a tissue and a milkshake? What happens when they grow up and find out that I’m not perfect, I don’t know everything and I still don’t have life figured out?
Will they be disappointed? Or will they understand that parents, just like other people, are imperfect beings who make mistakes?
And what about the lies? Are we setting our kids up for reality or are we just setting them up to be disappointed?
When little Johnny says he wants to be a doctor when he grows up, what are we supposed to tell him? Do we encourage him and tell him he can be whatever he likes as long as he puts his mind to it or do we smile sweetly and reply “That’s nice darling, but you’re just not smart enough to be a doctor.”
By telling our children that participation is more important than winning and trying hard is more important than results, are we just setting them up to fail? What happens when they head off to embrace the big wide world on their own and they realise that society favours winners and rewards results – and as hard as they try, they may still not get what they want!
As a parent you are confronted with such conflicting ideas and advise on a daily basis and often wonder how to navigate your way through this minefield called parenting.
You want your child to never be sad or disappointed but you also know they need to develop resilience and learn strategies of how to cope in this world full of ups and downs.
It has been said that the generation I belong to (Generation X) are now finding themselves depressed and disappointed as we were told we could be anything, have everything and the world would be our oyster as long as we put in the effort. Then we grew up only to find out that this is not always the case and reality can look quite different altogether.
So, did our parents raise us wrong? Should they have told us some home truths at the age of eight and expect us to understand? Should they have told us we were ‘losers’ when we didn’t come first in a competition or win a race at school?
What is the right answer here? I, for one, am somewhat baffled and as usual don’t have the magic solution.
However, I know that, whether right or wrong, I want my children to be able to stay children for as long as possible. So, to this end, I will continue to encourage them to try hard, think big and if they grow up and life doesn’t meet their expectations I will comfort them and try to explain that I am only human and every decision I made and advise I imparted on them was always with their best interests at heart.
I hope they understand that although I may be a fraud and even a liar, I love them unconditionally and hope that their childhood will provide them with a foundation on which to grow into happy and healthy adults.