Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A post from one of the blogs I regularly read struck a nerve today. It wasn’t so much the actual post, as the comments made about it.

So…some random thoughts. This will not be clear or concise, just emptying my brain so I can get back to work.

As parents, people hope that their children are happy. However, sometimes parents demand that it be the “right” kind of happiness…the "responsible" happiness.

I suppose as parents, the utmost importance is safety. We want our children to be safe first, happy second. Perhaps one is not valuable without the other. But sometimes, our idea of safety can be stifling and oppressive. We want our kids to have steady work and money because we know it will keep a roof over their heads and food in their belly. We want achievement, but when the attainment of success puts them some perceived risk, some parents become unsupportive and judgmental.

Parents believe their children are capable of great achievements, like completing law school or getting into Harvard. Parents encourage hardwork and perseverance in order for their children to realize their “dreams.”

When asked to believe that their children could be a successful artist, or write a best selling novel, some parents become fearful and protective. The possibility that their children may actually want to pursue such an interest scares them, and this fear can turn into anger. It seems that some take it as a personal affront that their child believes in their own talent.

Parents will not always condemn, but they are afraid of encouraging. I suppose talent is harder to criticize than work ethic, especially when you love someone. Failure at Med School can be chalked up to a lack of determination, failure as a writer is a lack of ability? and then they feel remiss if they encouraged it in the first place.

Parents will brag about their kids talents , but when asked to have faith in that talent, a childs dream is quickly shoved into the convenient little box of “hobby.”

I understand the motive, but I hope to be a parent that will support my childs dreams, not expecting some personal pay off or put my worries before their passions.

I rather my child struggle and fail while believing in themselves, than live with regret.

I suppose now I am destined to have a kid who wants to be the next Fred Durst.


amy. said...

I think that as a parent, what I want is for Henry to not have to struggle. I am struggling like a mofo right now to provide for him and establish a good solid base for him, so the thought of him having to struggle on his own sucks. That said, I realise that struggle isn't always bad, it is a learning experience, etc. I'd just rather have him learn without pain, lol. It isn't possible. I don't understand the anger part of what you are saying, but I do understand the worry. Being poor sucks! Ultimately, though, I think regret at not having tried your passion would suck worse than the actual trying and failing. I plan to support Henry in whatever field he chooses, be it premed or ice fishing, but it is HARD, and every parenting plan I've had thus far has been blown to pieces by the reality of having a child, so who knows. All we can do is try our best to screw them up the least amount possible, right?

k said...

Absolutely. And Henry is super lucky to have you. We can only hope they end up with the least amount of damage and neurosis as possible. Oh, not that you would damage...um, you know what I mean.

(By the way, please remind me to delete all evidence of this post after my daughter decides to take her Ivy League education to New York to become a mime.)

I would like to think that I would be 'this' or 'that' kind of parent when the time comes, but there really is no way of knowing how the reality of the thing will change my view...and I have no doubt it will change.

I had no choice, due to my current status, to react to the post I am talking about from the prespective of the child, since I am not a parent.

The original was about a girl who wants to quit her lawyer job to become a novelist...her mom is not supportive. That's not so much what bugged me as the comment someone left that

"She didnt pay for your education so you could write a book....I dont care how many time you have said thank you....try rewarding her with some actions."


"She seems to think that her parents should support her insanity, which is not realistic. Parents often times do know best, and in this case O's mother is right to try and keep her daughter on the responsible path of a legal career rather than following flights of fancy and writing a book."

The whole "responsible" path is what got me. Apparenty being unfullfilled is responsible...not to mention that a very talented writer, whom I read every day, should consider their dream a "flight of fancy"..god, where would be if all the inspired and talented people in the world's dreams where squashed by their parents. I just saw this person as probably someone who has a kid who wants to be a photographer, or musician and they are bitter about it. So they are telling O, a 26 year old woman, that she owes it to her mom to be miserable and waste her talent.

Sorry, getting a little ranty.

Anywhooooo...tell little Henry John I'll be front row center to watch him bang those drums! Whether it be Madison Square Gardens or the VFW (as long as my kid's not on bass...lol)

amy. said...

I guess the most important thing I want to instill in Henry is the ability to know what he wants. That is SO important to me. So if, when the time comes, and he tells me he has decided to be a drummer or poet or whatever-if I freak and tell him he'd do better to take some accounting classes and forget about the crazy drumming thing-I'd like to think that what I am doing right now is laying the groundwork of a healthy confidence and solid sense of self (and also, the solid sense that I will love him whatever he does in the end) so when if that time comes he can tell me that he loves me, but my unsolicited advice is not welcome unless it is supportive. I want him to be able to tell me not to manipulate or stifle him. If I do my job as a parent correctly it will mean that I don't have the ability to force my wishes on him because he will be his own person. I want him to take my opinion into consideration, of course, but not out of obligation because of my investment in him as a parent. I'd like his to value my opinion because he respects me and thinks I have something to offer. And after taking my opinion into consideration, I hope he knows himself well enough to make a choice that HE can live with. I would also like to think that there is a middle ground where he could pursue his dreams without risking his financial future or stability. He won't have to worry about feeling obligated because of his spendy college education because if that is the education he wants he is going to have to pay for it anyway, lol.

Also, J is talking about Henry drums for Xmas. It is your job to see that particular dream squashed, should you want Henry to make it to his 3rd birthday.

KL said...

I completely agree. Our goal as parents is to instill confidence so they feel comfortable creating their own destiny...whether is jives with our wishes as parents or not. We want them safe and happy...wouldn't it be nice if they all wanted to be CPAs and be extremely joyous about it! But we can only pray that they understand any input and advice is coming from a place of unconditional love and concern for their well being.

Unfortunately there are relatives who will impose THEIR will on your children with complete disregard for your control as a parent...like crazy uncles who get to reap the benefits of being the cool guy who buys the drums, but doesn't have to listen to the bang, bang, bang, cRASh!, bang every waking hour of the day. I was there when he got the email...you may have to take a little blame on this one. :-)I think he took it as a vailed invitation. Don't know if I can stop him...but I did suggest that he also build some kind of rack that the set can be hung from...so it's out of reach until you decide it's ok. and hopefully to ease your mind a little, He's not thinking of a REAL drum set...don't know if you ever saw "Rock the World"...it's a kiddie drumset made out of paper and plastic. But don't get me wrong..it's loud. J used to rock that thing on camping trips.

amy. said...

Henry will rip through that thing in 5 minutes. My folks bought him a small two sided drum with a real skin and he put a drumstick right through it. J also got him that music set that had the tambourine with a skin on one side. It is in pieces. Henry doesn't kid around, he hits those things with all his might. his sticks make a tiny tear and then it gets bigger adn then the skin is just ribbons. He needs a bongo type drum with a super thick skin on it. Right now he is rocking out on the wooden fish...

I know I ahve to take some of the blame, but how could I NOT send him that video? It was like the cutest thing evah.

Dan said...

This is a topic that my wife and I think about occasionally. We have a long ways before the rugrats start choosing careers. Our concern right now is how best to prepare them to undertake whatever they want without pushing them. For example, I want my kids to get into music at least a little bit. But, I don't want to push piano, violin, or guitar lessons on them even though I think they should play some instrument. So I figure I'll take piano lessons myself so they can see how much fun it is and maybe learn a little when they watch and hear me practice. It seems to be working. My son will sit down at the keyboard when I am done to practice his own songs. :)

nacho said...

We should get the kids together to jam! Henry on drums, Dan jr on keyboards and J (we don't have a kid, yet) on guitar...Old Man and the Tikes! J and the Juveniles....