As parents we have such high aspirations and dreams for our children, we want them to be the next prime minister, astronaut or world leader! Ok not quite but let’s face it, we all do it. We subconsciously burden our children with all our hopes and dreams of what their life should look like. We have our own picture of what success should look like. That picture has all the things we didn’t do in our lives and wish we had. It’s as if we want to live again through our kids. That’s why when our kids are different to what we had in mind, we are left disappointed and often resentful.
To make matters worse, our Asian/ Arab communities really focus on the achievements of their children and somehow use it as a status symbol. It is something parents use to show off with, like a new expensive car. Yes, sure we should celebrate high achievers but not at the expense of making everyone else feel like a failure. Not because they have actually failed but because they didn’t take the expected path or fulfil their parents’ ambitions for them. This mind set can be painful not only for us as the parent but also for our children. We just look at them with eyes filled with disappointment. Placing a burden on them when really we should be dealing with our own feelings and expectations.
So, what do you do when your child isn’t the golden child you hoped for? He or she is just a regular kid and all you see is disappointment? Well, here are a few ways to help you change your mindset and deal with it without hurting your child.
Indeed, your child may not be as you expected but they will thrive if they know you believe in them, no matter what they do. So, if they excel at something, then be encouraging and kind even if you don’t like it or think it is valuable. In addition to that, never show your children that your love for them depends on how well they do. It’s key to make sure your children know your love for them is bigger than any test result or career choice.
Even if things do go wrong, then react calmly. Screaming and shouting at exam failure or life choices really doesn’t help anyone and may only make your child do worse or give up altogether. Try to avoid labelling your child, as this limits them. Simple phrases like, you can never find anything or your useless only makes them act that way even more as their confidence and self esteem dwindles. It’s better to motivate and reassure them because shaming them just hurts and makes things worse. Encouraging them with constant reassurance and love can really work wonders for a child, teenager or young adult.
Finally, and as a last thought, it is fine to be firm with your children but be kind. It can be really frustrating when your child doesn’t make the life choices you had hoped they would but that’s life. Don’t have too many high expectations so that you are not constantly disappointed. Showing care and encouragement, no matter what they do will only strengthen your relationship with them. Remember they are on their life journey and it’s not yours. Allah is there for them, just like he was for you, so trust him and his plan.
How do you ensure you raise your children without imposing your wills and wants in a detrimental way? Let us know in the comments.
A mother of five amazing children and my proudest achievement. I live in London and love being part of a big extended family. My parents and siblings all live near to me and we are a very close family. Birthdays and celebrations are always fun but very hectic with so many of us mashallah. My family and my Deen are the centre of my life.