Your Kids Do Not Have To Follow In Your Fooststeps

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Your Kids Do Not Have To Follow In Your Fooststeps

Attention all parents: Your kids do not have to follow in your footsteps. I’m not referring to careers here. What I am referring to is that if you were an all-star baseball player, that doesn’t mean that your kid also must play and be good at it too. Let them do things that spark their joy, not things that you want them to do to spark your own joy.

All parents want their kids to succeed and all kids want to succeed at something, but it seems that many parents push their kids to pursue activities that they themselves have an interest in, which can possibly put too much pressure on their kids. At the same time, parents are sometimes hesitant to let their kids pursue a hobby or activity that they themselves are unfamiliar with.

So, what can parents do to foster their kids’ interests without being too pushy? 

First, just because you were good at something at a young age doesn’t mean that your kid will be too. It also doesn’t mean that your kid will enjoy that particular activity either. I think this is tough for some parents to accept. I’ll give you a few examples from my own experience. My family loves sports, which is great. My husband and I both enjoy sports and we exposed our kids to all kinds of sports at an early age. However, both of our kids excel at activities that we know very little about and have very little experience with. My daughter plays soccer. Fun fact: soccer is one of my least favorite sports. When I played as a child, I was terrible at it, but I did not let that discourage my daughter from trying it. It is currently one of her favorite activities. My son plays golf and absolutely loves it. Fun fact: my husband and I are not golfers. My son also loves to fish and cook, which are activities that my husband and I especially dislike. But, we do not let that stop him from pursuing those interests. 

In addition to accepting that your kids’ interests may be different from your own, parents must provide opportunities for their kids to try new things. When my son was younger, I signed him up for an outdoor summer camp for a few weeks because I really loved summer camp when I was younger. I thought he would love it and I was really excited about it. However, he did not particularly enjoy it like I thought he would. I never signed him up again since he wasn’t interested. If you want your child to try something new, encourage them and try to get them excited about it. Just don’t be disappointed if your kids try it and don’t like it or are not good at it. You can always ask your kids if there is something else they want to try instead and do your best to support them in that activity. 

Finally, remember that while encouraging your child to pursue an interest is important, you must also not pressure them to try to be the best at it. Again, kids want to succeed but that has to come from within from hard work on their part, not from pressure from their parents. Don’t get me wrong here; it is great to have high expectations of your kids, but there has to be some kind of limit. Putting too much pressure on your kids to perform well at something can sometimes cause them to turn away from it. If your kids want to be good at something, they can practice and work at it on their own terms. A little over a year ago, we had a reality check. Our son, who had played baseball since he was three-years-old, decided he no longer wanted to play. He made the decision on his own, but I am convinced it is because we were really hard on him and he rarely practiced without being asked. Quickly after he quit playing baseball, we discovered his love and passion for golf. We just regret that we did not realize this sooner. 

The bottom line is that parents need to accept the fact that their kids do not have to follow in their footsteps, but rather that they can create their own. Eventually your kids will have to make their own way, so why not give them opportunities to pursue their own interests early on rather than expecting them to participate in the activities you want them to do and expecting them to be the best?

Of course, you want to be a good role model for your kids and you will need to guide them in the right direction at times so they will make good decisions and ultimately be good, successful people. However, when it comes to activities, sports, and hobbies, sit back, relax, and provide your kids with opportunities to try things that they are interested in and passionate about.

After all, you never know where their footsteps may lead.

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