In hoping for the best for their children, parents often say they want their kids to become more successful and have better lives than Mom or Dad ever did. Some of these parents even set a clear path for the child, gently pushing the little one in one direction over another, setting expectations that are intended to turn dreams into realities.
The problem with this parenting approach, says clinical psychologist and parenting author Dr. Shefali Tsabary, is that this path may be your path, not your child’s. That direction may be your direction. And those expectations may be rooted in your own perceived shortcomings.
This unintentional projection is one of the reasons why “parents live riddled in fear” without fully realizing why, Dr. Shefali says.
“We are not conscious that we have expectations that come really from our own sense of lack,” she says. “Things that we didn’t finish off, things that we didn’t resolve from childhood. This is what we are not even conscious [of].”
What inevitably happens, Dr. Shefali continues, is that parents tend to transfer those expectations onto their children, with society’s encouragement.
“Culture tells me, ‘Go ahead. One person you can put your expectations on is your child,” she points out. “In fact, you’re expected to have expectations.”
If those expectations aren’t met, therefore, fear begins to take hold.
“Now, if my child is not going to fulfill my expectations, I’m going to panic,” Dr. Shefali says. “And my panic will quickly become control.”
Dr. Shefali details ways that parents can raise confident children on this weekend’s premiere of “SuperSoul Sunday,” airing Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.
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