One goal that parents might strive for is to guide their children to realize their fullest potential. Each child is an individual with innate talents, interests, strengths, motivations, and gifts. What they could become and what potential they have within them are unknown. How can mothers and fathers parent in a way that allows their children to blossom into the people they’re meant to be?
First, one might consider any unfulfilled dreams and wishes that are—consciously or unconsciously—being projected onto their children. For example, you may have never succeeded in baseball, so you push your child to strive for that, regardless of his interest. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to become a musician, so you push your child to practice piano every day, even though she despises it.
Parenting is a selfless act. Parents need to consider who their individual children truly are at their core. Rather than forcing dreams and wishes upon them, the idea is to inspire them to be the very best version of themselves that they can possibly be.
When your child reveals those true callings or innate interestss, as parents, we can take action by providing them resources and outlets to explore those as fully as they wish. For example, if your child is constantly drawing and doodling at every free moment, using up the paper in your home, or drawing pictures on her schoolwork instead of doing what she’s being instructed to, then perhaps she’s an artist in the making. Rather than reprimanding her for failing to complete her math problems, what if you got her some drawing lessons and a slew of art supplies?
Whenever those sparks of interest and curiosity rear their heads, it’s time to move and see where the rabbit hole leads. Sometimes, it’ll lead to a dead end, but sometimes it’ll last—perhaps even for the duration of your child’s life.
Something that surely gets in the way of potential is perfectionism. We can help our children steer clear of perfectionist tendencies by celebrating any bits of progress they make and also keeping a positive outlook on their failures. See failure as a learning opportunity and an expected outcome along the road to any goal.
At the same time, parents need to recognize the messages of mediocrity that will also influence a child. In school and elsewhere, putting in just enough effort to get by and settling for the average some of the time will lead to it becoming the status quo. When it comes to the areas of your children’s lives where they can excel, they need to be given the opportunity to do so.
Be the Example
The journey toward your greatest potential is a lifelong one. As you encourage your children to do their best and aim high, consider the extent to which you’re following your own advice. For most of us, it doesn’t take too much introspection to determine all the ways we wish we were better. There is a gap between the potential we know we have and the reality we’re currently manifesting. Rather than beating ourselves up over the gap, we can celebrate any little bit of progress made in filling it in. Be kind to yourself as you push yourself forward joyfully and exemplify a meaningful adulthood to your children.