We enthusiastically and gladly wait for our child to be born, we make plans and expectations, we are curious and anxious, we ask ourselves all kind of questions, sometimes we doubt how well we’ll manage, and sometimes we just feel overwhelmed by all the changes. We strive to give to our child the best and we make everything possible for him to be well. The child grows and grows, we are proud of every success he has and we get sad when he is not alright. We feel responsible for his successes and also his failures. Most of the time, we blame ourselves unnecessarily and we forget that we are not the same as our child ... who has become a teenager... and then an adult. Occasionally, we are tormented by questions and we look for the best solutions: "Am I doing this right?", "Should I address the problem differently?" "Did I really do well then?" "What have I done wrong? , "I don’t know what to do..."
Parenting shouldn’t mean giving up your own life and living through the child. When this happens, in fact, the parent tries to compensate for their own lack of meaning, life direction and power through the excessive influence they exert on the child. The child becomes just an extension of the parent, and the parent no longer realizes their symbiosis and the countless projections he makes.
What they haven’t succeeded to accomplish in their life, they will want their own child to accomplish and they’ll guide him, and sometimes they will even impose the way to go. If the parents made some mistakes or uninspired decisions, they will do their best to make sure that their son or daughter doesn’t repeat these mistakes, forgetting that every person has his own way in life, and that an action considered wrong by the parent may not be a mistake for the child, but only a necessary experience which we’ll help him learn and make his own personal destiny. Parents forget that their sons and daughters are not their copies and that their lives will not look the same, even if sometimes they make the same mistakes.
A child is another human being, not a miniature parent. The parent has the obligation to take care of him and to create all the conditions for a harmonious development, so that as the child grows up he can acquire his independence and autonomy and become a functional and healthy adult from all points of view. In the process of personal growth and development, the child must learn to take responsibility for what he is, for what he wants to become, and for his actions and decisions. Since the child is little, it would be good for the parent to instill in him the sense of responsibility, to help him become self-conscious, giving him freedom, respect, guidance and support.
To keep a tight rein on a child for the point of protecting him and to impose him your own life vision because "you know better" will rob him of the opportunity to create his own identity and choose his actions. Why? Because at the beginning the child doesn’t have his own identity, so it’s very easy for a parent to mold him a "personality" by telling him what to do, what to think, what to feel, how to behave, what is right and what is wrong, how to pretend in front of others and so on. This kind of parents will do anything for their child, except allowing him to be himself. When he’ll become an adult, this child will experience a lack of fulfillment, a void within him that is caused by the fact that he is missing from his own life. The ways in which he will attempt to fill this void can be - by using alcohol, drugs, superficial fun, or by chasing a status, fame or fortune that can provide him a sense of identity through others’ validation.
If you are a parent, it would be best to resist the temptation to mold a human being according to your selfish desires, aspirations or failures, and to try to support your child to become what he desires. This is the only way you will truly fulfill your parental mission and give your child a chance to happiness.
Dr. Ursula Sandner