Allow your child to follow their dreams

In a week long series, parent coach and teen mentor Eileen Keane Haly shares some advice on issues from education to relationships. Today her focus is on acceptance and strengths
Allow your child to follow their dreams

Encourage your child to follow their dreams and passions. Picture:Stock

“PARENTS need to be more accepting of who their kids are and less concerned about what society thinks they need to be.”

In today’s world, accepting your kids for who they really are can be challenging, but it more important now than ever.

Our kids can be so different, with different strengths, different weaknesses, different interests, different personalities and different needs. Just because one of them is sporty does not mean they will all be sporty.

My husband and I were both sporty growing up and presumed our kids would be too. I remember us watching my daughter playing a football match when she was around 12 years of age, we looked on from the sideline as she danced and pirouetted around the pitch; not much football going on. She had asked us many times at that point whether she could start drama and dance classes and we kept putting it off - always believing sport was so much more important.

We eventually realised how important this was to her and we arranged for her to start classes in drama and dance. She lived and breathed these classes and made friends for life. She has now completed her degree in Drama and she couldn’t be happier in herself.

I often ask myself, ‘What would have happened if we didn’t listen to her and realise what her real passions were? Where would she be now’? 

I don’t know where she would be if we didn’t listen, but I do know she is happy and very passionate about whatever future this road has in store for her.

I remember seeing a 17 year old boy a few years ago. His mum told me he wanted to be a doctor, and he was very stressed out over the exams and the high points he needed to study medicine. When I spoke to my client, I asked him what type of a doctor he was hoping to be, a GP? A surgeon perhaps? What area was he most passionate about? He stared at me with sad, confused eyes and answered, ‘Well, to be honest, I love languages and I love art. I’m really not sure about this doctor thing, but I know its what my mum really wants me to do.’ Who wanted to be the doctor here?

How sad to think any child would feel the need to pursue a career to please their parents, what a waste of their unique talents and passions. 

The greatest gift we can give our kids is to accept them for who they are, to allow them to be true to themselves. Sometimes this can be challenging but what is the alternative? So many kids struggle because they feel they cannot be true to themselves.

I’m sure all any of us want is to see our kids happy, with their jobs, relationships and overall in their lives. They cannot be happy if they are living their lives to keep someone else happy.

Our kids are not an extension of us, just as we are not an extension of our parents. They are individual unique human beings with their own dreams and ambitions in life. It is so important that we allow them their individuality, allow them to follow their dreams and passions. It is much easier, and perhaps a natural parental response, to presume that we know what is best for them, and sometimes maybe we do. In my experience however, this generation of kids are exceptionally smart and they will find their way provided they get support and acceptance. I am not saying kids don’t need to be pushed and motivated, just try and make sure they are being pushed in the right direction for them.

Our educational system is very academically orientated (you could say 100% academic). This can make school a real struggle for kids whose strengths do not lie in academia. 

How ridiculous and narrow minded for anyone to assume that kids who are not academic are for some reason ‘less than’. All kids have their own strengths, and thankfully they are not all the same or we would live in a very strange world indeed. Please don’t ever let anyone put your kids in a box because they do not ‘fit’ our academic system. We need all kinds of kids; artistic, sporty, academic, creative, motivators and so many more. So why are they not valued equally?

Kids today are growing up in a world where so many different jobs, courses, degrees and apprenticeships are available. 

Let’s help them to go down the road that is right for them; what a happier life they will lead as a result.

Imagine if every child was allowed to believe in their own strengths, whatever those strengths may be — what a different world we would live in. I believe it would be a much happier one, where people have learnt to accept who are are and taken steps to live their own lives, not the lives others expect them to live.

Help your child to see their own strengths, teach them how to believe in themselves by showing them you believe in them, let them dream big and give them the wings to fly.

Eileen Keane Haly
Eileen Keane Haly

About the author:

Eileen Keane Haly, is the Director of jumpstartyourconfidence.com and author of The Parent. Eileen is a qualified Parent Coach, Kids Confidence Coach and Teenage Mentor, with a background in child psychology.

Most of her professional life has been spent gathering information about how our younger generation work, how they deal with difficult situations, how social media is affecting them socially and emotionally, how their school life, social life and home life impact on their everyday experiences.

She has recently published her first parenting book called The Parent which can be purchased on her website www.jumpstartyourconfidence.com.

You can also follow Eileen on her Instagram page jumpstartyourconfidenccork and Facebook page.

Tomorrow in the final part of our series: You the parent

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more