Creative Child

How to Enjoy Your Child For Who She Is

(Not Who You Hoped She Would Be)
by Deborah Song

I often wish I could change certain things about my child. And not just that she was more patient, a better sharer or a maniacal veggie enthusiast. But there are innate personality traits, those qualities that make her distinctly her, I wish could make over with a magic wand. I wish, for instance, that my daughter wasn’t so sensitive. Embedded in this gnawing desire to toughen her up is the hidden belief that her sensitivity will cause her the same angst and pain it did me.

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Often, the characteristics that bug us most about our children are those we loathe in ourselves. And when we project our own insecurities onto our children, the knee-jerk reaction is to expel it by implementing some kind of change - make him tougher, make her more outgoing, make him taller, even. Despite good intention, we try to correct something in our child simply because we identify with it. And when change seems out of reach, it’s easy to settle into a muddied state of disappointment.

It is just as easy to feel disappointed with a child that is vastly different from us. It can be tempting to push our progeny onto the same paths that we once walked, insisting that our children, too, go to the same private schools, play the same sports, and enroll in the same extracurricular activities. The truth is, the same opportunities may or may not behoove our kids— not in a way that truly makes them feel fulfilled. The reason is simple. They are not us, just as we are not our parents.

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In either case, whether the impulse is to steer our children away from the landmines of our pasts or to drive them toward a future that is similar to our own, we no longer see our children for who they are. Instead we see them as our own selves, our own lives. When we hone in on those seeming sore spots, that may have yet to develop into sore spots (and possibly never will) we fail to realize that what’s hypnotized us, like Narcissus, is nothing more than our own reflections.

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