Tips For Parents: Ways To Let Go Of Determining Your Child's Success
There is no doubt parents want the best for their children. This can often result in encouraging, or insisting, they make certain decisions over others. However, everyone's path is unique and the path that is best for the child might not be what the parent has in mind.
Research has found a positive correlation between parental aspirations and children's future success alone, meaning parents are doing enough simply by wanting the best for their child and being there to support them in discovering their path (Kaplan Toren, 2013).
We spoke with various parents and educators to seek their insights. Four individuals share their top takeaways of how they learned to better let go of controlling their children's future...
Scott Holman, father of 4 children and President of Stop Clowning Around, a firm focused on helping young people better launch into life and career shares his thoughts. "I think that is one of the biggest mistakes we parents make because we tend to project our desires on our children which may or most likely may not be the best future for our own children.
Often the desire of the parent is to somehow fix the mistakes of their younger life by getting it right with their kids. By doing this we can put pressure on them to pursue a path that may not be the best fit for them leading to discontentment."
Scott describes that this leads to two types of young people:
1. Rebellious - they resist the control of parents and will often do anything opposite of what their parents desire often leading to poor and unhealthy decisions for a time.
2. Submissive - they will pursue the path they were pushed down by their parents as they didn't want to disappoint. However, most of these young people are living unfulfilled as they don't find any enjoyment in their work and they can be harboring bitterness inside. However, since they don't want to disappoint, they will hold all this in leading to future unhealthy emotional issues.
Scott explains, "I don't think parents should try to control the future of their children. However, I also don't think we should ignore their launch and hope they figure it out on their own over time. Some will, but many will not. We have too many mature adults living unfulfilled lives due to not getting any guidance in their early launch.
As parents, we can't leave it to chance, and we will be more successful in launching our children into fulfilled and successful career lives if we stop trying to control or even direct them. Rather, we can do better by guiding and coaching them.
As a guide or coach, we focus on helping them understand their design as we are all created with a unique skill set of natural strengths and weaknesses.
There are a number of profiles one can invest in to help uncover the natural behavioral style of a person to bring clarity and awareness to both the young person and parent for better guidance. As Amba state's in her TEDx Talk, there is not one path for anyone, but we can do better in helping our children know the paths they should eliminate as the path does not match their behavioral style or natural skill set.
We parents will do best by accepting their design and helping them be the best version of that design. All people are not meant to be doctors, lawyers or entrepreneurs.
At the end of the day, we parents need to stop trying to build our pride through the perceived success actions of our children. We should just simply love them by allowing them to become the best versions of who they were designed to be.
Author and parent Jill Shulman warns, "Parents don't seem to understand the harm they do when they micro-manage their children's lives--from scheduling them with so many activities when they're little that they don't have time to explore themselves, to writing their children's college essays."
Jill explains, "The message these well-intentioned parents are sending their children is that they don't believe their kids can do life on their own.
Letting go of these details, allowing children to make more of their own decisions and fail sometimes translates into: You've got this, and you've got my support no matter what happens."
Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr. Author/Educator believes that the best way of letting go of trying to control your child's future is to recall how you felt as a child, when it was your turn to decide what you wanted your future to look like?
In Jelterow's case, his parents gave him ideas and direction, pretty much like a coach would give to a player trying to improve upon a skill they're weak at.
He explained, "When things didn't work out - they encouraged me and helped me cope with the pain of disappointment. When things went well and work out fine - they helped me stay grounded and not get a big head about the matter."
The best advice Father, Hank Berkowitz ever received was when dropping off his oldest son at college for the first time. The Dean of Students stated, "Parents: You're no longer the CEO of your child's life; you're now on the board of advisors."
Working with your child to help them carve out how success will best look for them, not how you see it, will, in the end, help the child find out what their interests are. Today it is more than common for students to have multiple careers and that age-old question, "What are you going to do when you grow up?" is now redundant as there is no single answer. (You can watch the TEDx talk on how I shift the thinking around this transition here).
Ultimately we want to create a flexible mindset for children today, so they can grow and find themselves and know that they can change their mind in today's rapidly evolving workplace.
Fun fact, a study by David Stillman found that 75% of Gen Z will be employed in jobs that don't yet exist. Highlighting that the focus should be shifted onto the decision-making ability of the child and their wellbeing and not focusing on one future idea of what seemingly successful job they will hold. Why limit the child's options?
We hope you found these tips and insights helpful. If you'd like to share your top tips with our readers please do so in the comments below.
About the Author:
Compiled by Amba Brown, Positive Psychology Author of Finding Your Path Books, a series created to support the school transitions of youth; starting school, starting high school, and finishing school.