I am going to get personal for a moment here. My daughter just turned 21 this week. She will be graduating from college this year, poised to begin a career as an Elementary Ed/Special Ed teacher. (In Colorado, if anyone knows any openings) 😉
While we always knew she had a sweet, kind nature, like many children, she was quiet and shy. And yet, as she will tell you herself, there are thoughts, desires, and passions inside a growing soul that need time to take shape and strengthen. What we as adults get to witness in our young children are often only sparks of the magic growing inside. I couldn’t be more proud of the adult she has become. Mature, confident, and excited to face the next challenge.
Parents often worry about so many missed opportunities – academically and socially, as their children don’t always connect today with what we see as so important for building for their tomorrow.
Hindsight is a tricky thing. We often look back and say, “If I knew then” and expect that we can somehow either save our children from repeating our mistakes or prod them into capitalizing on wisdom perhaps we ourselves followed. Yet, we forget or suppress who we were at that time – our own level of awareness, insight, and confidence that perhaps held us back from pursuing and persevering as perhaps we “should have.”
So how can we help them have the benefit of our wisdom when they seem so resistant to taking it?
Here are some thoughts:
1. Speak from your youth, not just your present wisdom. You need not share the regret of missed opportunity as the final dig each time – perhaps just sit side by side and acknowledge that you yourself did not always know what you wanted, how to manage your time, how to study effectively, how to speak up, etc. Let them feel your acceptance of who they are now, in the moment. This will allow the space for them to come to you, as they are ready.
2. Let them see your process, not just your endgame. As parents, we can do so much to help our kids develop their Executive Function skills just by talking out loud about how we go about the decisions we make. We must speak out loud as we decide which clothes we purchase, what we intend to accomplish on the weekend, when we will get to the pile of papers building up, etc.
We sometimes shield our children from the messiness of our decision-making process so they only see our completion, or perhaps do not see our failed attempts at following our own plans.
3. Accept that they are not us, and who they will become is yet to be determined. As we let go of where we think they can or should go, we allow them the opportunity to develop in a direction that will lead them to their success. The world is a different place today, just as it was different from our parents’ time.
4. Trust! You are planting good seeds; you are exhibiting proper morals and values. As long as you invest time in your relationship with your child, they will witness through you the positive lessons you crave to teach.
I leave you with one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
Stay the course, model well, practice patience and empathy… take lots of pictures… and know that when you least expect it, growth happens!
Written by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC @2014 PTS Coaching. All rights reserved. May be reproduced or electronically distributed as long as attribution to PTS Coaching is maintained. www.PTScoaching.com