In response to Paul Schoenfeld’s column in Feb. 2 Sunday Herald, “You have great power over your child’s future”: Like much of parenting advice, Mr. Schoenfeld’s article implies that if parents can get it right, their kids will turn into “happy, successful adults.” Flip that, and if they aren’t happy and successful it must be because we dropped the ball.
This emphasis on how to properly shape and teach our kids is actually a misguided (if well-meant) pressure. On us and on our children. Statistics show, despite all our attachment, mindfulness and best efforts, anxiety and depression are increasing issues for children and adults. What if making mistakes and being a mess of a mom or dad is actually a huge gift to our kids? Might they then learn to forgive their own missteps and stop letting fear of failure stop them from reaching for their dreams?
How much more love and joy could we be with our children if we gave up getting it right and just be ourselves? And trust we are enough? Maybe that would be easier. Maybe we’d be less tired and more engaged. Maybe, as Mr. Schoenfeld suggests, children will learn by our example. Perhaps they will learn to let go of the anxiety, fear and hopelessness of crushing self-judgement.
I know my kids are powerful creators of their own future. I know they are magic. Their future isn’t actually up to me.
Ultimately, I just want them to be themselves. Because they, too, are enough.