I’ve seen them at a swim meet, a ballet lesson, a parent-teacher conference, a piano recital, or on the sidelines of the little league field—parents, who are too concerned and overbearing about their child’s performance. While being enthusiastically involved in your child’s life is a good thing, an obsession with their ability to perform perfectly at a social event can be harmful to their fragile self-esteem.
Participating in sports, playing an instrument, or going to school should not cause a child to feel humiliated or embarrassed, but I’ve seen it happen all too often. A parent’s expectations are too high or they compare one sibling to another and the child feels inferior at home plate—whether on the field or at the family dinner table. (Some parents wait until they get home to discourage a child for their public performance.)
As parents, we are here to guide and support our children to be the best they can be at whatever profession or life path they choose. Why are some parents so hard on their kids to achieve greatness? Here are some of my observations.
Parents with what we call a Type-A personality are usually competitive and work-obsessed to the point that their behavior is impacting their health and wellbeing. They feel a strong sense of urgency, are impatient, get easily frustrated or upset over small things, interrupt others, walk or talk rapidly, and may be hostile or aggressive. Someone with a Type-A personality may not even be aware that they are mistreating others—especially their children. It’s not uncommon for little league coaches to exhibit Type-A personalities.
Lack of Self-Esteem
Some parents are motivated by their own lack of self-esteem and may push their children into competitive or performance-based activities. Then, when the child fails at the task, the parent feels disappointed or takes it personally. They may try to get their kids to “take it like a man” in order to strengthen their ability to be successful. They may tell their child, “You’ll never grow up to amount to anything if you give up now. You have to keep taking piano lessons no matter how much you hate it now. You’ll thank me for this one day.”
Some parents feel embarrassed by their child’s mistakes and end up projecting their shame onto the innocent party. They may force their son to continue playing football because the father feels the boy is a sissy when he says he says he hates getting knocked down by his opponents. This parent may say things such as, “Knock them down before they get a chance to hit you.”
Living Vicariously Through Others
Those who hope to recover an unrealized dream of their own, may try to live and make up for it through their child’s life. This parent may say something like, “I could have been a professional ballplayer if my parents hadn’t made/let me quit the team when I was a teenager. You don’t know how lucky you are that I go to all your games.”
The TLC TV program, Toddlers and Tiaras, shows examples of moms who want their young daughters to win beauty pageants at all costs. Perhaps the mother is still feeling rejected because she never made the cheerleading team in high school.
I realize that parents don’t intend to harm their children. Many times we are simply repeating the parenting methods that were used to raise us. Intuitive children are more emotionally sensitive than some of the members of our generation.
Here are some suggestions for helping your child to follow his or her divine spiritual purpose:
Throughout the thirty years of my work with children, I have found that calm communication creates better understanding and cooperation.
Talk to your child and allow him to make his own decision about what artistic or competitive activities he wishes to be involved in. It requires a lot of time and money to enroll in a sport or class. Making sure the child really desires to be involved in a particular activity before enrollment is a good way to ensure that the child will stick with the activity for at least one season. If he doesn’t want to continue after that, there’s no reason to force him. Save your money and put it toward something that does interest him. We are all inclined to change our minds about things once we’ve had the opportunity to explore.
A vision for a life brings hope. We rarely succeed in activities for which we have no passion or motivation. Ask your child what she feels like she came here to do. You might be surprised that she knows her spiritual purpose. Seek opportunities for her to explore paths that will lead her toward her destiny or career that reflects her beliefs, dreams, and hopes.
Every soul has a purpose for coming to Earth. How are you supporting your child’s divine mission? The Sid Series by Yvonne Perry has a story titled “You Can Be” in which three-year-old Sidney learns to listen to his inner guidance and explore his life purpose and career options.
Teach them how to do what you do. Be a role model or mentor for the skills that you possess. I know of a nine-year-old who assists his auto mechanic father in working on customer’s vehicles. Do you sew, crochet, or like gardening? Let your child give it a try. Does your child love animals? Take him on a field trip to see what goes on behind the scenes at your local vet or zoo. This is a great way to spend time together.
Deal With Your Own Stuff
If we are too hurt, hurried, busied, reactive, stressed out, numb, rushed, negative, or sick, then we need to change. Life will simply pass us by while we think we are living it. If you find that you are a Type-A personality, have low self-esteem, feel embarrassed by your child’s shortcomings, or are living vicariously through him or her, get help. Find someone to talk to. Perhaps a support group for parents, or personal counselor could help you deal with your own issues.
All of life’s lessons should build up a child’s self-confidence. It is time to support children’s gifts for their personal happiness and achievement. It’s time to enable each child to find and fulfill his dream.
Dr. Caron Goode is a licensed counselor, author of a dozen books, and educational trainer. She is the founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents International at the forefront of the parent coaching movement to disseminate the coaching model of empowerment for parents. Her most recent book, Raising Intuitive Children has won the National Best Book award for the parenting\family category. Her newest book is Kids Who See Ghosts, How To Guide Them Through Their Fears.