On occasion in the Conlee household, we’ve been known to say we have two “mini me’s.” Our son, Mark, shares many similarities with his father. They order almost identical meals at every restaurant. They wear the same size clothes, and if you’ve ever seen them walk, you automatically know they’re related. On the estrogen side of the family, Annika also shares many similarities with her mother, but please don’t tell her, OK?
It’s hard to find a parent who doesn’t see part of themselves in their children. I’m pretty certain God intended it to work that way. And as long as they’re good qualities, it’s enjoyable to see a little of yourself in your child. Beyond the physical attributes, it also works out great if you have a similar temperament as your child. There are times when our family will be having a conversation and I can totally relate to how Annika’s processing the conversation. I often “get” her.
But what happens if you don’t “get” your child? One of the quickest ways to ruin your child is to expect them to be just like you. As much as I can relate to each of my children in some areas, there are other areas where I can’t even fathom what planet they’re on. Not only do we not see eye-to-eye, we don’t see each other at all.
As a parent, you have a choice. You can attempt to make them conform to the way you do things, or you can step back to determine if there’s room in this world for another approach. (If you have a strong-willed child, you’ll deeply understand the reason I added the word attempt.)
Some lucky parent might think, “I would never do that. I love each of my children for who they are.” Don’t move on so fast.
Naturally, we all see the world from our own vantage point. It’s the only one we’ve ever had. There are many things we view as “right” and “wrong” that are not truly plumb line issues. It’s just the way we see the world. I’m not referring to things like truth, character, and morals. Those have clear rights and wrongs, but whether a child likes to talk 80 miles a minute or read a book for hours is not right or wrong. You may have been very competitive and can’t understand how your child could be so passive. Maybe you were the type who colored in the proverbial lines and you gave birth to a scribbler.
Every once in a while, it’s healthy to step back and ask, where am I accidentally trying to force my child into my mold? We must give our children room to be themselves. The world doesn’t need two of you or me.