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The One Perspective Shift All Parents Should Make

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I believe most parents really love their children unconditionally. Yet, this amazing love makes it difficult for parents not to expect the best for their child. When children are very young and impressionable, they cannot protect themselves from the pressure to conform to their parents' expectations. It is hard to have to be something that you do not want to be or have never thought of. Most children do not rebel at that moment, but later they usually get the courage to go their own way.

Some children have a real hard time when pressured to perform at school and in extracurricular activities. I feel that, as parents, we are the only means of survival for our children and we have a duty to guide the child, but we should not impose.

For example, we can expose our child to languages and sports or music, but if they do not like these activities and they are not gifted at all, we cannot do much. I often see parents push their children very hard to become little Mozarts and I believe that is sad. Children are not extensions of our lives. We have no right as parents to have the child accomplish what we so regrettably have lacked in our own lives. ...

The only thing a parent has to do, which is a tall order, is to put possibilities in the path of the child: music, culture, dance, languages, and travel--my list is endless. A parent is a safeguard to help the child develop, nothing more. It sounds sad, but it is beautiful if you really think about it. By putting all these possibilities in their path, parents give children the choice to try whatever is out there with ease. Parents are the instrument that makes it all possible.

Adapted from With All My Might by Gabriella van Rij. (Vancouver: We Open Doors, 2011.)