Examples of adult goals:
• Run a half marathon
• Save for a kitchen remodel
• Present at the next convention
Examples of teen goals:
• Get through high school
• Avoid parents
• Wear deodorant
When children are young and developing their interests and personalities, us parents can’t help but dream big for them. Like, enormous, ridiculously and to the extreme “big” sometimes. For example, a child of 8 years old, interested in space and stars automatically equals, “My daughter is going to be an astronaut!” Football comes naturally, he loves it, and plows over the other little leaguers equals, “My son is going to the NFL!”
Both things could happen and obviously someone’s child will grow up to do these things, but not most of ours. I have, however, been known to create my child’s entire career in my head… in elementary school. My son had a borderline obsession with weather and tornados at a young age. To the point we drove to Orlando Science Museum just to see the IMAX documentary made years ago. I decided on the University of Oklahoma for my son, the internationally known famous meteorologist, when he was about 8 years old.
My daughter had an interest in art and performing. She sang a solo for a talent show in elementary school, third grade I think. She was amazing and her confidence was unstoppable! In my mind, she had already passed up Broadway and was on to performing at Madison Square Garden.
Fast forward through puberty and now teenagers. My dreams and goals for my children are frustratingly not aligning with their plans, or lack of them. Of course, I’ve brought reality back into play and truly just want my children to be content and thrive in what they choose for work and life. Sometimes that is the only thing I pray for. There are days where I just would like them to have a goal other than just graduate high school!
As parents, we have to balance our expectations of what we think they should accomplish and teaching them how to set goals and follow through. I do believe it is my responsibility as a parent, to provide opportunities for them to meet a goal or face some sort of consequence. The hardest thing for a parent to see is their child fail, but maybe even harder is to see them quit. When do we push and when do we let them make their own decision?
Although, I can talk, advise and model integrity and grit, they will have to learn consequences which I have no control over. As they become young adults, I am doing my best to let go of my goals for them, and allow them to have their own. How do I teach them that their grades, behavior and extra-curricular activities could open doors, or close them? As I explore school and scholarships, looking at college applications, and pushing career paths, I have to pause and ask myself, “When is my involvement actually hurting them or creating defiance?”
My anxiety about missed opportunities as they move through high school is on a ridiculous level. I was not a good student in high school. Early on, I was introverted, and I did not understand the value of networking or forming relationships. It was difficult for me to connect with people in my field. I closed many doors for myself out or arrogance and lack of confidence, even in college. My fear is that they will have the same experience and struggle. I want them to understand that doing the difficult work early on in life will avoid regret.
But their journey isn’t mine, is it? There are lessons they must learn on their own and I can only watch as an observer. My experience is not necessarily their pre-determined future, even when I see the same mistakes being made. They will have to create their own goals, figure out what they have to do to meet them, overcome failures and cherish successes. What I can do, as their mom, is support them when they succeed and fail. My goal is and has always been that they know I love them regardless of grades, success, failure, never going to space, and if they don’t play in the NFL. Please note I said “if”…I mean, someone’s kid has gotta go, right?
My goal: be the kind of person I want my children to be, healthy, confident, kind and giving. That will be enough no matter what they choose as their goals.