The topic for today comes from a friend of mine. I asked my friends and readers on facebook if there was anything they'd be interested in my writing about and she wrote, "Pushing "your" goals for your child's life on them. Like a doctor wanting his kid to be a doctor or wanting your kid to live in a certain town. Or always pushing your kid to go to get that better job because you aren't happy with the amount of money they are making." Now I fully understand that my children are still very young so I am speaking on this subject with no first hand experience, however I dealt with this some from my dad as a child so I can use that and the bible to talk about this.
I believe this is a very easy thing to fall into for most parents. We have our children for 18 years to train, raise and prepare for the world so it can be very easy to also plan for their future for them. It really doesn't seem like a bad thing either, and a lot of times it isn't as long as you are planning with them and not for them. But let's look at the unhealthy side of this issue and how it can negativity affect your children.
My dad is a tennis player. He played in high school and has been a tennis instructor for all of my life and he had ideas of me working and training hard and trying to become a professional tennis player. I started playing tennis when I was about 4 or 5 years old and played regularly until I was 10. I don't really remember my dad ever telling me that's what he wanted me to become but I remember hearing him talk to others about it and I remember him pushing me to be better and work harder to improve. I honestly loved the game and still do, but I never ever wanted to do more than play casually. However I knew my dad wanted more from me so I tried. I tried and failed.
When I was 10, I played my first tournament and was crushed by the other girl. I had stayed up all night the night before and was completely exhausted, and on top of that the other girl really was much better than I was. But I knew my dad would be disappointed and that was the worst part. I was letting him down in something that really mattered to him but honestly just didn't matter to me. I only ever played one tournament after that, it was a father/daughter match and I loved spending the time with my dad.
You see, the time with him was why I had played for so long when it wasn't important to me. My dad worked a lot so playing tennis was the way I could spend the most time with him and for a long time I was willing to do it. Then I began to hate and resent the game that I used to enjoy. Eventually I began to love tennis again but i've not played regularly since I was 10 years old.
You see, every time I pick up a tennis racket i'm always reminded that I didn't accomplish my dad's dream for my life. It was never my dream but I knew it was his and I failed. I loved the game because he loved it and I played because it was an opportunity to spend time with him. But once I couldn't, or wouldn't play anymore we no longer had the connection of the game, and it was one more area of distance in our relationship.
So now let's come off of my memory lane and talk about what this can do to kids. First of all, when you have a career chosen for your child, you have decided what their future is to look like. Then if they don't want to do that or honestly can't do that career they have to live with the fact that they have failed you. No matter what, your child should never have to live with the feeling of failing their parent! There is no career out there that is so important that they should feel that way. Period. It is an awful, guilty feeling and not something you should put on your child.
Second, your child was born with their own unique talents, gifts and desires. It's our job as parents to help shape and mold them into a responsible adult but it is not our job to determine their gifts and dreams. We can encourage them and push them to do their best in whatever area their dream is in, but we can't confuse that for actually deciding what their dreams are. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you". God has a plan in mind for your child's life, a plan that He has had since the beginning of time. It is not your job to push God's plans aside to further your own plans. Yes, your child is your child on this earth but we can't ever forget that these kids are simply on loan from Him. Instead of pushing your plan and your ideas for their life on them, get before God with your child and find out what His plans are for their life. Those plans are the ones you can push forward. Those are the plans that matter.
And thirdly, when you push your plans and dreams on your child you can actually push them away from something they really do love. Like I said, I loved playing tennis and probably would have continued playing but I knew I would never measure up to the dream that my dad had so I completely quit. I lost out on the continued connection of playing with my dad and we both lost out on having that connection in our relationship.
I don't think there is anything wrong with pushing your kids to do their best and not allowing them to quit on something they love. But you have to remember that as parents, we don't automatically get to decide everything for our kids future. What career they chose, where they live, how many kids they have, and many other life decision like that are theirs to make. We have to train them to make those decisions wisely and after seeking God's counsel but that's really the extent of our involvement.
What do y'all think about this subject? Is this something any of you have dealt with? If so, what do you do in the situation?