Hi Everyone; welcome back!
Here is part 2 of my 3 part series of "Present Not Perfect: How Parents Can Equip Their Children to Thrive in Today's Appearance and Performance Obsessed Culture.
During the part 1 of this 3 part blog series, I introduced some of the pressures that society places on families here in the San Ramon Valley as well as the idea that parents can help support their children standing strong in the face of these pressures by being intentional in communicating “I love you for who you are” rather than society’s “you are loved for what you do and how you look.” I gave some tips to help parents support their kids when having tough conversations about mistakes.
In the next installment, I introduce another way parents can be instrumental in helping their children weather these pressures: helping your son/daughter explore his/her strengths and passions. Encouraging your child/teen to explore a budding interest can help them find a more stable sense of who they are and gain some joy and satisfaction in their life.
Here are 3 ideas to keep in mind in supporting your child through this exploration.
- We all have different strengths and even within a family these can vary amongst family members, so it is important to acknowledge that these differences exist and that is okay and normal to have a different passion than their brother or sister.
- It is normal for children and teens to change their interests; there is a reason I labeled this as an “exploration.” It is part of the developmental stage that they are in; they are exploring/trying new things to see if they “fit” with their true identity. I know that often times there are a lot of “start-up costs” with new activities, so it can sometimes feel to parents like they are throwing money down the drain as their child tries all these new things. I would encourage a healthy balance trying out a new activity for a reasonable time and still granting freedom to switch to a new activity.
- I suggest that parents to emphasize that their children’s chosen activities/passions are theirs and theirs alone. Yes, these activities could have a benefit in helping your son’s or daughter’s resume for college, but this should remain a side benefit of your child’s chosen activity. The main reason they are engaging in the activity is for their enjoyment. Often times when these activities are engaged in just for the competition or college extracurricular benefit, they are not tapping into the person’s true self which can result in decreased motivation, performance, and increased stress, pressure and anxiety.
I hope these tips are helpful; next post I will talk about yet another practical way parents can bolster their children and teens in developing a solid, secure identity.