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As a father of three wonderful children, two boys, and a little girl, my heart is so full of emotions. I am blessed beyond means with my children. The happiness they bring to my wife and I is immeasurable. I long for their achievements, new words, learning in school, first girlfriend or boyfriend. I enjoy listening to their creative stories, laughing at the many crazy things that they say. Not all emotions are good though! I fear for their safety. Wince when they hurt themselves. Discipline them so that they know right from wrong. Parenting truly is a roller coaster of ups and downs!
Every parent wants their children to be successful. Therefore, parents put children in private schools, hoping it gives them a leg up over the rest of the children. Therefore, we push our children to pursue after school activities to broaden their interest and improve the collegiate application. In my profession, I speak with parents daily about their children’s futures, aspirations and goals. I speak with the children about their aspirations and goals. Want to know what I realized?
What the parents want, and what the child wants are usually two separate things. Parents tell me they want little Timmy to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, engineer. Timmy tells me he wants to write, make movies, create video games and be a mechanic. It truly amazes me how little parents know about the dreams of their children. Do they not know, or are they trying to change their minds?
As parents, we want the best for our children. I want all three of my children to be successful in their ways. I want them to achieve an education, formal or informal. I want them to be productive members of society. If every child had to become what the parents wanted our economy would crash! As I have never been told by a parent “I want my child to be a pipe cutter in a factory.” Our production, creation, development, transportation, and sales would be non-existent because no one would have those positions.
Here lies the problem! What if our child wants to do a job that we as parents do not believe in or like? What if our child wants to have a career that is dangerous such as a combat soldier, firefighter or police officer? What do we do in that situation?
What I have seen is that parents will make almost any excuse in the book not to support their children when it comes to these positions. The child that will be doing the job is not scared, it’s the parents that are scared. When should we step back, out of the way, and support our children? I will tell you when…NOW!
We must realize that our lives have been led, and our children have their own to lead. We must mentor, guide, challenge and love them. However, we must also support them! We must let them fail, get back up and fail again. We need to allow them to struggle, to build resilience, determination, and confidence. We need to get out of their way!
I write this article because of something I witnessed today. A young man that has had a rougher life than any child should, looked at positions in the Army with me today. A bright young man with a bright future in whatever he chooses to do in life. His family asked me to tell him about all the benefits, training, certifications of a support job. I did this and I gave him every fact that I could about the job. This young man wanted to be a Calvary Scout, he wanted to have excitement, adrenaline and loved everything about the job.
After everything I told him about every other job, he still wanted Calvary scout. So, I reserved that position for him! He was so excited…his family, on the other hand, was not. He left the office at noon. Later this afternoon he messaged me and said he wanted to change his job. I drove to his family’s house to speak with him. I changed his job as he requested and started talking with him about why he changed his mind. By the time I left his house the young man was in tears. He had the job that he wanted, his family destroyed his confidence in his decision, and he picked a different job to make them happy.
I left as his eyes swelled and one single tear ran down both cheeks. This proud, bright, respectful young man… had been crushed. Crushed by his family and their fears! Today I hated my position, I regretted ever initially talking with the young man. I had built him up, only to have him destroyed.
So, with that, I leave you with this. Let us get out of our children’s ways. Let them make their educated decisions. Let’s trust our children to follow THEIR dreams. It is their life, let them live it. If they fail, pick them up. Earn their respect by supporting them, versus earn their resentment by stifling them. Our children are growing lets water them and help them versus suffocate them. Let’s be our children’s parents, not their keepers.
Grow, fly and enjoy life children. Life is short and you deserve your version of life’s happiness.
Written by: Bradley Armentrout
Date: 23 September 2019