A strange thing happened to me today. Or more precisely, a strange thought occurred. You see, my eldest son helped me install a new kitchen. He was the expert handyman. Me? Well, I was the 'gofor'. "Dad, could you go for this?" "Dad, will you go for that . . ."
And you know, it took me back to my childhood. I used to stand by MY dad's side, helping him mend this and build that. What a pride I took in those days, holding a plank of wood at one end while he measured it, or going into his toolbox to fetch a bigger screwdriver. The master and the apprentice!
Yet despite all my admiration, I never quite mastered the secrets of DIY. In my own house, I muddle through jobs as best I can, or just leave them undone. Occasionally I'll send for a tradesman.
Yet somehow I raised a son who, like his Grandad, can turn his hand to anything - while I STILL stand and watch!
This particular creative talent managed to skip a generation, only to re-emerge with a flourish in my boy.
There lies the crux of this article.
We each discover our own talents, leanings, and strong points. As a teacher I hear so many kids complain about their parents, who - with the best will in the world! - force their kids into curriculum choices or career paths which say more about the parents and their aspirations.
Why do so many of us insist on directing, or even dictating, career choices for our kids?
Many possible reasons spring to mind:
Talk about a recipe for disaster!
Trying to live our own lives through our kids tends to fill them with resentment. Go along this path and we'll soon encounter a breakdown in relationships, and our kids will seethe with unhappiness and a lack of fulfilment.
Sometimes our children may even go along with our wishes because they want to please. They feel grateful for all we've done and don't want to disappoint us. The outcome here can be even more insidious: if a child or young person lacks one hundred per cent commitment to the path we choose for them, it can manifest itself in low achievement, depression and even physical illness.
What a waste of everyone's time, energy, talents and resources!
On the other hand, we do want to guide them, don't we? We instinctively know we should give them the benefit of our experience.
So how do we go about it?
The key lies in ENCOURAGEMENT.
From the earliest possible age, encourage your child to be confident, positive, and optimistic.
And observe them in all they do. Cherish their uniqueness, and enjoy seeing their individual talents unfold.
Avoid forcing any issues; concentrate on encouraging growth and development, even if - especially if! - their talents take them along a road unfamiliar to you. Often, what a parent least expects develops into a major plus in their child.
Strive for open and unbiased expectations. If ballet dancing interests your child, encourage him or her to research that activity, try it out, and make a confident, realistic appraisal - don't try to force them into medicine or the law instead!
In high school some teachers encourage kids to make their curriculum choices to suit future career aspirations. But this stresses many unsure kids. My advice has borne fruit over the years: "Choose what you're best at and what you enjoy most. The rest will take care of itself!" And it does.
Again, encourage confidence and optimism. Because today and in the future, most of our kids will not enjoy the luxury previous generations enjoyed - a job for life. Our kids need adaptability in order to face change willingly and without fear.
By encouraging them to follow their hearts, we can do much to help them. Happy parenting!
Why do some parents and children succeed, while others fail?
Frank McGinty is an internationally published author and teacher. His writing includes motivational books for both parents and teenagers. If you want to develop your parenting skills and encourage your kids to be all they can be, visit his web pages,
http://www.frank-mcginty.com/peace-formula.ht ml AND http://www.frank-mcginty.com/for-parents.html