All mothers want what’s best for their children, but sometimes it’s a struggle between expressing concern and exerting power or control.
As the mother of a 7-year-old, I still have the luxury of being in control of most aspects of my son’s life. I decide what’s for dinner and how much he should eat. I pick his bedtime and limit his intake of candy. I choose when it’s time to stop playing and take a shower or how much is too much time on the iPad. I monitor the games he plays and what he watches on television. He often asks, “How come you get to tell me what to do?”
I smile and simply say, “Because dear, I’m your mother and that’s my job.”
But the truth is, it won’t always be my job. Yes, I will forever be his mother. I hope that the trusting relationship and bond we now share will last a lifetime. But at a certain point, the decisions my son makes will be his. I can (and will) tell him my opinion, but I cannot decide for him.
He needs to stumble and fall before he can run. He will need to make mistakes to learn from them. And I will always be there to catch him, pick him up and brush him off. But I can’t protect him for life. That’s a very scary thought but it’s one I’ve come to accept.
Of course, I would like to see my son attend college. I believe that you often need an associate’s degree, at minimum, to be considered for most positions. But I will not push my son to get his bachelor’s degree or attend graduate school unless it’s part of his vision for the future.
I will encourage my son to take up a trade. I think trades are a dying art. I believe anyone skilled as a plumber, welder, electrician or carpenter will almost always find work. My brother is a shining example of this.
My son is currently in first grade—he loves science and math and excels at both. Perhaps one day he’ll choose to become an engineer or architect. I watch his curiosity and amazement and it inspires me. I don’t want his passion and quest for knowledge to ever dull.
He’s also very charming. He isn’t shy about approaching people, asking questions or engaging in conversation. He loves attention. He would make a great reporter, salesman or could take up a career in marketing automation. He gets those social traits from his father.
And then there’s the entertainer in him. My son is a performer. He loves to dance, sing, make people laugh and be the center of attention. Maybe a career in show business will be his calling.
Whatever my son decides to do, I will try hard to support his dreams. I think a child’s confidence originates with their parents.
I know my son looks to me before he makes a decision about most things. If someone asks him a question, he often looks at me before answering. If he’s about to try a new food, he asks me to try it first.
We are our children’s role models. If we embody self-confidence, our children will learn to do the same.
I’m sure it’s very difficult for any parent to support a dream their child has if it seems ridiculous, impractical or just plain crazy! But, I think the only thing worse than following a pipe dream is the regret you feel if you don’t. I don’t want my son to ever wonder, “What if?”
So, if my son comes to me and says, “I want to be a magician” or “I want to join the circus”, I won’t stop him. I will, however, try my very best to explain the weight of his decision.
I’ll suggest he has a backup plan. I’ll ask him how he plans to support himself during dry spells? Where will he live? Where will he sleep?
Without instantly saying, “no”, I will try to help him see every vantage point of his decision before making it. But I will never knock him down or diminish his dreams.
My son knows a few things. He knows I’m his biggest fan. He knows that I believe in him and think he is amazing. He knows he is smart and strong and capable. He also knows that mommy makes the rules (even for daddy).
My son also knows that if he works hard and tries his best, that he can achieve anything he wants in life. And I will show him the way—with no regrets.