When our children are born, we welcome them into our worlds with visions and ideals in our minds of what they should become, and do whatever it takes to try to mold and squeeze them to fit into these images.
Instead of being parents, we assume the roles of being managers, micromanaging children to ensure the job gets done at whatever cost.
Is this because more parents today are professionals and working than when we were growing up? Perhaps, or maybe we are just more inclined to obsess about what we can relate to.
When they are infants, we meticulously schedule their sleeping, waking and feeding hours so as to get them onto a routine that will result in optimal height, weight and developmental outcomes. As they get older, we adjust their schedules to allow for just the right amount of socialising, whether in pre-school or playdates.
Then, in grade school, our timetabling skills really kick in, as we plan weekly ballet, football and skating, bi-weekly piano and violin lessons and daily swim practices and math tuitions, in and amongst the countless social engagements which cant be missed as we struggle to keep up with the Jones’.
In high school, we try to get involved in every aspect of our children’s lives, from which sports they are made to compete in, to who their friends are allowed to be, to what their science fair project is, to how and when they do their homework, to what subjects they choose, the list can go on and on. Its almost as if we don’t make the right micro-choices for them now, they might miss the proverbial boat taking them to the next best thing.
What parenting is really all about
Is this really what parenting is supposed to be about? Should we be this obsessed with our children’s minutiae, wanting to be the ultimate playmakers? Are we putting too much pressure on our children with our constant hovering? Are we maybe doing them a disservice, which takes away their freedom and independence in the long run, and leaves them anxious about whether they can live up to our expectations?
It is easy to forget that our children are not objects through whom we might relive our childhoods with the help of hindsight, however much we might wish it so.
They are like we once were, and it is up to us to be there to advise rather than manage them, to nurture rather than to mold them, and to celebrate their individuality rather than to make them into what they are not.
At the end of it, we cannot control their destiny, in spite of our best intentions. In the timeless words of Doris Day, ‘Que sera sera, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see…’