An open letter to parents: Listen to your child’s vision of success
It may have been meticulously planned, or a one night stand that landed you as a parent. Regardless of which, I felt the need to write this letter to all parents based on my experience and others I know who feel similar. Those who suffer have had their voice boxes ripped out, ignored, or defined as some condition to put them into a quickly defined stereotype or “category”. Thankfully this letter is here to explain further without being interrupted. I’m a parent now (3 wonderful kids) so saying “Just wait until you become a parent” holds no ground now. I hope I have your full attention for once.
Your children will have their own vision of success as they grow up. It may mimic yours, a relative, a friend, celebrities… but it should always be theirs. Do not take that away from your child by imposing on them your upbringing, mistakes you made, your anxieties, insecurities as to how it will make YOU look, what the media says, how you want them to appear when you’re older and in need of them, or any other reason. We are all here and guaranteed one life that we are aware of. The way you speak to your kids directly, whether if it’s in front of them to your friends, their friends, their teachers, other family members, etc remember…YOU ARE THEIR PARENT. THEY HAVE A VISION OF THEIR SUCCESS AND YOUR COMMENTS DIRECTLY EFFECT THAT.
What do you do each day to move the needle closer to your success? Do you play the lottery hoping to win millions or billions and call it a day? If you achieve whatever vision of success you desire, I’d assume part of it is your kids (who I’ll assume you love beyond words can ever explain) being happy and able to not work a job they despise right? You’d love for them to live each day waking up and not counting down the years, months, weeks, days, minutes to whatever break they may get in life.
That “break” may be enjoying tv, watching movies, going to the clubs, fist pumping, listening to a podcast, smoking marijuana, decorating a cake, taking a risk eating cake batter, playing a sport, watching the same episode of their favorite show for the hundredth time, learning a new instrument, playing with their own kids or pets, starting a company, running marathons, and many many many other achievable steps toward their vision. One definition of success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”. If your child aims to achieve an unknown to you (and maybe an unknown to many others), do you help them reach it or knock them down? I’d hope your answer is “of course I’ll always support my kids and raise them up!”. Now that you gave the generic answer, REALLY think about it.
Did you listen to the excitement in their voice when they were talking about a new painting, film, photo, GitHub repo, autonomous drone, musician, past colleague who now works at a sweet lidar company, sculpture, etc that will be accessible to them in some way? Is it their own? Is it one of their favorites that you’ve heard mentioned a few times before but never really took interest into finding out more? You should know the answer to those questions if they are taking time to spill their guts to you about what their vision entails. You probably love to see your kids light up when they talk. That could mean speaking fast, stuttering, yelling, cursing or any other indicator that there is a serious stimulation in their brain about that topic. I’m sure you see it when you surprise them with a gift you’d know they love. Why not give them the gift of your time and interest in learning more about your child?
Hop on board and realize this is when they want you the most. They want to take you on the rollercoaster of emotions they are feeling. Yes it’s exhausting, yes you may have just got home from a horrible commute, yes you may be on the phone with someone else at the time, yes your plate may be at the max of things you need to do “yesterday” but DO NOT LET THEIR ROLLERCOASTER BE THE ONE FROM FINAL DESTINATION 3. You may need to delay what they want to share with you about their vision, but please try your hardest to not forget about it. Whether you know it or not, they are aware of your reaction. The less interest you show, the further the divide grows between you two.
Ask what those words or acronyms you don’t know mean. Your child will appreciate you asking what it means and teach you. When they said MVP did they mean “Most Valuable Player” or “Minimum Viable Product”? Why does ISO matter? Is 10Mbps fast? How are you going to get 10Gbps wirelessly streaming to a go-kart to control remotely in another state or country? What is lidar…is it radar for lying?
I could go on and on about this. I’ve lived enough years without the cheerleaders I hoped I’d have by default and ones I genuinely think cared. It’s tiring to keep defending yourself and also move forward. So take your children as they are and guide them with a grain of salt. They will make mistakes like we all do, but cheer them on their journey as you hope they will do with their children and their children and so forth.
Hopefully your child lived under your roof safe to live out their childlike innocence and you wonder if that could be taken away from them at any point. Even if that wasn’t an option in their situation…please realize to be the best cheerleader for them, they shouldn’t feel like they went as high as they can go under “your roof of parenting”. Take the roof off and let them fly.
From my heart hopefully to yours,