This article is from an interview I did with Dr. Greg Schreeuwer from "Be Who You Wanna Be."
Q: How can we support our children in uncovering their mission in life and doing things that are true for them?
Once we start to explore our own flavors in life, once this process is going, we can start to support our children in their own interests. An important aspect of this is not trying to project our own desires and dreams onto our children. I did a teen call last week and we spent a good 30 minutes talking about this, how projecting our own dreams onto our teens can really create a wedge or crevice in our relationship with them. And this is a tough one, many of us do it without even noticing.
I have a good example of this in my own life... I put my son in baseball last year and he really didn't like it, and I kept thinking to myself that he would eventually come around, but he didn't. Now his true interests are in games and technology.
My son goes to a Waldorf school, and we're a minimal media home -- no TV, a video game once a week, that kind of thing. So it really got to me that he was more interested in playing a video games than baseball, this really irked me, and it forced me to take a deeper look at my own desires, projections and agendas in me wanting him to play baseball. And I was making him play for a number of reasons:
1. I wanted him to get chances I never had.
2. I wanted to get outside during the summer.
3. I was afraid he wasn't getting enough exercise.
4. I wanted to visit with my friends while he played.
When we want our children to do something really badly, we need to ask ourselves...
Why specifically do we want our child to do this?
For example; so they can be fit, have fun, make friends, learn a new skill, whatever it is, once we ask ourselves this, we can also ask...
If there's another activity that they could do that we don't like as much, but they're still happy, would it matter if they did the other activity instead of the one of our choice?
If we find in the answer that we're really hooked on them doing that activity we selected, then it shows there's a hidden agenda and we may have our child doing that activity because of us and not them.
And this is an important thing to be aware of. And we can ask ourselves...
Why do we want our child doing that activity?
What's the reason behind this... Maybe we always wanted to be a dancer or baseball player and never got the chance. I was watching an interesting show called "Toddlers and Tiaras," and it's about putting young children in beauty pageants, which is a whole other topic I'm not aligned with... but many of the mothers of the pageant girls we're saying things like, "When I see my child onstage it's like seeing myself, or I wish my parents would have done this for me."
You can also see that the kids are trying so hard to please the moms and be that star that mom is looking for.
A great exercise we can take the time to do is sit down for 10 minutes and ask, "Why do I want my child to do x activity?"
Because they will learn a skill, because I want them to be successful, because I want them to be happy... and we can dig deeply into this. If we spend some time on this, the real reasons will start to surface. And awareness is often enough to shift things. But in saying this we have to be willing to be really honest with ourselves.
This is a key component in supporting our children's life missions. The key is really stepping back and looking to see what is true for us and what's true for our children, and this comes back to point #1, because so many of us are not living in our truth, this is when we have the desire for our kids to do things we never got the chance to do. If more of us did what we loved, I think there would be less projecting onto our kids. And I really encourage all the parents reading to do the exercise above, it's a real eye opener.
Another way we can support our children in uncovering their missions is by noticing what they're interested in and supporting them in that.
Going back to the video game example, I don't like video games myself, but I need to respect my sons interests, and I can do that by participating in what he's doing, and make and effort to connect with him on this level.
So sitting down with him and engaging in what he likes, even playing perhaps.
Supporting our children's passions by being involved in the process.
We don't have to have the same passions as our children, but we do need to respect theirs. And children are highly sensitive and intuitive; they can feel when we're rejecting their interests and loves. I notice with my son, that when I embraced his interests, we became a lot closer.
What are some of your ideas on how to inspire kids? I'd love to hear them!
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