Are you a parent? Have you ever felt that you’ve given so much to your kids or sacrificed so much to support them, but you are not getting the responses, results, or respect from them? Have you ever felt that there’s an unseen chain tied around your neck, preventing you from satisfying your own needs and desires? If so, I hope this article will help you.
Nowadays, there is so much pressure, anxiety, and mental health problems among both parents and kids. Parents have high expectations for their kids and put in everything they can to support their kids. But at that same time, they worry that their kids may not be able to have a bright future. Kids feel the pressure or responsibility to meet their parents’ expectations and are afraid that they may disappoint them. Although both sides have the best intentions, that relationship is actually not healthy. In human relationships, when one party is completely dependent on another party for either physical or emotional support, it’s not sustainable and can even be toxic, whether you realize it or not. Safety, trust, and autonomy - the foundational needs of humans are not satisfied here.
In this type of relationship, the kids do not feel safe and free to explore and experiment, they do not feel they have the trust and autonomy to make decisions, fail and learn from them. They lack the courage and creativity that are much needed to succeed in modern society. On the other side, the parents do not feel free from worrying about their kids’ future and don’t feel the freedom or autonomy to identify and pursue their own dreams. In turn, they contribute their own limited success or even failure to the sacrifices they choose to make for their kids. In this situation, the upside potential for both the parents and kids is limited. The best-willed intention actually becomes the biggest constraint. The kids fail to develop their own personal interests and coping strategies in those early years and constantly seek their parents’ approval. The parents fail to maximize their potential in pursuit of their own career, interest, and happiness, and eventually become a burden on their kid’s adulthood and future life. The vicious cycle can actually go on for generations. If we look at history, all the extraordinary people were rebellions, defying conventional wisdom in furious pursuit of their high dreams. Isn't that ultimately what the parents want?
So as a parent, what can you do? Be an independent parent. Define your goals independent of your kids’ goals, pursue your own success independent of your kids’ success, find your own happiness independent of your kids’ happiness, and be a role model that your kids want to follow, instead of you following them everywhere. Let your kids think, explore, experiment, fail, or succeed on their own. You are always there to support them, but not to demand them. You accept who they are and what they can do, and so will they do to you. When they are at the bottom of their struggles, you provide a safe harbor for them to rest, recover and recharge. When they are at the peak of their lives or career, you continue to propel them with support and cheers, rather than attaching yourselves to them. By working on yourselves, being self-independent and self-responsible, and accepting your kids as different individuals rather than another part of you, you are giving the best lessons and long-lasting support to your kids, even when you are no longer around them!