When many people reach the age that they are thinking about having children, they start to daydream about what their future kids will be like. Maybe they’ll be a doctor! Or an engineer! Maybe my daughter will love books, like I do. Maybe my son will be just like his father and excel at football!
But what happens when your children have different personalities than you?
For many parents, this means that they will try to get their children to like the things that they do.
While it’s perfectly O.K. for you to want your children to be like you, as they reflect your essence, it is not O.K. to change your child’s personality to fit a dream that you had.
Let me tell you a story I recently heard of a family where the children have different personalities:
This is a story of acceptance that amazed me more than words can say.
Grace and Chris have two sons. Both work full-time in prestigious scientific fields. Their oldest son, Justin, is pursuing a degree in a similar field from a highly accredited college. However, their youngest son, Reid, doesn’t quite fit the mold of the family.
Reid loves to dance. At a young age, he decided to take up ballet. Lo and behold, this child was talented! He danced beautifully! He practiced every day and only got better as time went on. One day, when he was 13, he requested that his parents allow him to audition for a spot in one of the best performing arts high schools in the United States.
The only problem was, this school was over 3,000 miles away.
Despite the fear of moving, Grace and Chris decided that it couldn’t hurt to let him audition.
After a stupendous audition, Reid was awarded a place in the school. While proud of their son, Grace and Chris fretted over how they could make this work. Reid could only attend if he lived near the school, but their work was here. How could they leave the jobs they love to move so far away?
For most families, this would have been the end of the story.
“We can’t leave. He’ll just have to practice here and he can do Performing Arts full-time when he goes to college.”
Many children have heard this sort of justification for why they cannot pursue their passion.
Fortunately for Reid, this was not the case with his parents.
Grace and Chris had to make a choice. Even though their son was NOTHING like them and they didn’t fully understand why he would choose ballet over science, Grace and Chris decided to let him go.
Reid was far too young to move across the country and stay by himself, so to keep their jobs and let Reid chase his dream, Grace and Chris bought a house near the school. Then, every month, the parents would trade positions. While Grace was with Reid, she worked from home, and Chris worked in the office on the other side of the country. When a month was up, Chris flew to be with Reid and worked from home, while Grace flew back to her job.
I could not even imagine the kind of financial and marital stress this must have placed upon their family. That said, I am absolutely astonished at the sacrifices Grace and Chris have made, allowing their child the chance to follow his dreams.
They didn’t try to change him. Nor did they try to make him into a scientist, or make him play football. Instead, they accepted that their children have different personalities. They let Reid follow his passions. Chris and Grace saw his talent and his drive, and that was all that mattered to them.
So, parents, if your daughter doesn’t like dolls and your son doesn’t want to play sports, don’t get discouraged and try to make them change.
I promise you, they won’t. If your children have different personalities, the only thing that will cause is conflict.
Instead, roll with their personality. They may just surprise you at how successful they can be.
If you find yourself struggling and looking for ways to connect to your child or accept who they are, I urge you to read The Joy of Parenting. This book will help you understand the differences between you and your child, how to handle the feeling of being overwhelmed and confused, and it will provide you with applicable parenting strategies that will be useful in your everyday life.
Remember: Parenting isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.
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Meghan recently graduated Central Washington University with her B.A. in Education, specializing in Early Childhood Education and Development and is a certified K-12 teacher. She is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and is interested in expanding her knowledge of other international sign languages.