I think my father’s proud of me.
He’s not a man of many words, and his whole life, he’s avoided positive reinforcement of his kids. My grandparents raised him with 0 accolades of good work, words of encouragement, or just a “good job” every once in a while. It was seen as weakness to show affection or even positive rearing, because you still had work to do and you were never done. My father went on to be a successful entrepreneur, starting three companies and making them into multi-million dollar endeavors.
But even with all of his hard work and success, his parents really never complimented him on his accomplishments. So he was brought up with the impression that regardless of your wins, you can’t celebrate them. You can’t feel good about them.
Terrible way to grow up, but it was what it was.
But my dad still, at times, complimented me, as far apart as those compliments might have been. I know he cared and was rooting for me, but the fact that he was raised to see praise as a weakness was reason enough for me to understand exactly what he was going through and to know when he was happy for me and my accomplishments. I just knew.
I think a lot of the men of the baby boomer generation had the same thing happen to them. Their parents endured World War II and had to sacrifice so much, I don’t imagine there were many thanks for them for doing the basic day to day when they were busy taking a beachhead, watching their friends die in battle, and avoiding artillery shells.
But with my father, I don’t necessarily think he was fishing for compliments, I believe he was wanting SUPPORT for what decisions he was making in his life, and too often, parents are at odds with their kids on what constitutes a success.
Many parents push their kids to do jobs they believe are “successful” while putting their kids in the automated line of living a life that society tells them is the life to live.
It’s the same story we were all told.
Go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, get a house, get a car, and live happily ever after.
Applied emphasis on go to college here.
I was told that college was the key to getting a high paying, successful job with tons of benefits.
But now, we are seeing fallout of that. Kids who were told to join the rat race the way their parents wanted them to are disappointed and lost in their professional lives, and worst of all, stuck.
Because many parents are convinced that their kids can only make their lives good by doing what they say to the letter. And this is increasingly becoming problematic as kids get older and realize that they could have lived a dream instead of living their parent’s dreams.
They, like many other parents, have bought into society’s production lines of what success really means. Many people, including myself, bought into this and did what we were “supposed” to do. I wasn’t necessarily pushed by my parents, however, but my career arc followed those of many other kids in the 90’s, the idea of college was required.
We saw a shocking move away from trade schools and other things earlier in this century because of this mindset. And it was driven by parents who thought they underachieved.
Parents feel like they didn’t succeed in their lives, so they pour everything into their kids. And when their kids have the gall to decide to do something different from their parents, and kids, who are just looking to their parents for support and acceptance, get emotionally dropped kicked for doing what they love to do.
I understand parents pushing kids to do things. It’s understood that there are many young adults out there without a rudder who need a push. But the push doesn’t come from providing opportunities to these kids, it comes from parents who think they know better than their kids on what’s best for them.
This is where parents need to take the wheel in a different way. As a father of two daughters, I don’t try to push my kids into making life choices that I would approve of. I approve of their happiness doing what they want.
My job is to show them opportunities that they may want to take, give them a look into all things in this world to see if they like it. My oldest daughter is into robotics because it was an interest I saw for her and she now loves it. Not only that, but she also wants to be an engineer and do robotics for a living, and I support all of that. When I see something my kids love, I pour all my resources into that passion for them, because watching them light up with excitement is what I’m about as a parent.
My journey to this side of the world has been filled with men who are making their dreams come true by dropping the 9-5 and doing what they love, regardless of what it is. I’m not sure if their parents are proud or not, but it doesn’t matter. These guys are seeing a shift in their thinking that was hammered into them at a young age and taking the world by the balls.
Success isn’t defined by what society thinks, it’s defined by what YOU think.
The risk you take by doing something you love, even if the world thinks it’s ridiculous or wastes time, pays off when you’re happy.
And people will give you a ton of flack for it. But thinking against the crowd has resulted in some of the biggest successes in life.
I’m certainly not rubber-stamping ALL activities (drugs, etc), but I see kids lacking motivation for activities their parents deem important and this is where the disconnect turns into a chasm.
So as a parent, you want to avoid pigeonholing your kids into things you liked or were forced to like as a kid.
What’s the greatest asset a parent can have with their kids?
An open mind.
Especially when it comes to hobbies, interests, and eventually, a career they love.
And if what you do is of interest to them, introduce them to it with the same patience you would with anything else.
My youngest daughter wants to play trombone and become a writer like her dad. That makes me happy, but more happy because SHE chose it, rather than me making her choose it. And if she changes her mind, so be it.
But I want my kids to live their lives on their terms, not on my agenda.
They deserve to be given opportunities to find something they love. So as a parent, you facilitate those opportunities and watch them either love it or leave it. That’s what you do as a parent. That’s what we should do as a society.
I see a ton of failure to launch kids who are unmotivated because they didn’t have parents who led them to something they loved. They tried what their parents wanted them to, hated it, and are now left with purgatory where they have to choose job, military, or nothing.
We have to give our kids options to show them that they can do anything, yes, anything that they love. The understanding that success isn’t linear nor is it a cookie cutter blue print is key in getting your kids to the point of loving life and their choices. Regret is a bitch and we all see it all the time.
I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I am. I want to do more, I will.
All because my parents didn’t have an agenda for me to follow, even if they were and are skeptical of my current trajectory, they love me and my abilities. That’s the key here. You can’t make a pumpkin seed grow into a carrot, no matter the amount of water, sunlight, or oxygen. So you grow it into the best damn pumpkin you can.
So let’s take the glass ceiling and walls off of our kids and support their endeavors, all while showing them more things that they may take an interest in.
The thought shouldn’t be “why would you do that?”
It should be “what else can I show you about that?”
Kids deserve a cheerleader, not an agenda.