Let's face it, as soon as you know you are having a child, you start to dream of who they will be and what they will become. Parents want the best for their children, and a lot of times that means they want their children to be the best. We also tend to transfer our dreams onto our children. We may never have made it into the NBA, but there is no reason our child can't. Unfortunately, all these expectations we build for our children are likely to come crashing down. Make sure you are not putting these types of pressures on your child:
To be the next child protégé
We all think our children are talented. They learned how to play "Mary had a Little Lamb" on the piano when they were two, that must mean they will become the next Mozart, right? While it is very possible that your child has talent in a certain area, it does not mean they will master a skill before what is normally expected. Put your child in piano lessons, or help nurture the talent along, but do not go overboard. There is a certain amount of practice expected to learn a skill, but try not to go over what their teacher recommends (unless your child wants to!).
To have a successful career in Hollywood
Often times we think if our child shows interest in acting or modeling it would be a disservice not to get them an agent. But before you go setting up auditions for your little one, take the time to consider what this really means. Your child may have several auditions before finally landing a role. If they do get offered a lot of roles it may mean moving your family where the filming is happening. It also means your child will not have a normal childhood.
Unless you are truly ready to make these changes and sacrifices in your life, don't promise something to your child that may not happen. Instead, enroll them in a local children's theater. It will give them a chance to see if it is something they really like and are good at before you pack up and move across the country.
To become a sports celebrity
I think a lot of parents are guilty of this. While they may not be pushing their child to be the next Olympic gold medalist, they may be pushing them to be the next Kobi Bryant, Tiger Woods, or David Beckham. Sports are fun and healthy for your child. They teach team work, perseverance, overcoming disappointment, and discipline. But just because your child is the star player on their team, it does not mean they will become the star player on a national team. Let your child enjoy their sport. If they decide they really don't like playing baseball, have them finish the season and then try something new next year. Don't fall into the trap of having your child do what you really love.
To be voted President of the United States
President of the United States, astronaut, brain surgeon...these are all dream occupations we hold for our children. Most parents want their children to become better than they are. The world is open to our kids and we, as parents, are here to support them. But what happens when our child wants to do something that may not be considered the most prestigious job in the world, like a mechanic or a plumber? We should be happy with whatever field of work they decide to go into. It is okay to tell them they can be whatever they want, but then we need to be okay with whatever it is they decide.
To be their school's Valedictorian
Being smart seems to be another dream we have for our kids. What parent doesn't what their child to excel at school? To get good grades so they can earn scholarships and get into any college they want? But for some kids, school is hard. No matter how much they study, it is not easy for them to ace their tests. As parents, we need to recognize when our child is struggling and let them know it is okay. We can get them the help they need. If we expect our kids to be the smartest in their class and are angry when they are not, it can influence how they feel about school. It is our responsibility to help our children love to learn, not to get the best grade.
These dreams are pretty lofty. If our children feel they need to live up to these expectations, they may be scared of disappointing us when they don't. There is nothing wrong with encouraging your children to do their best, to have big dreams and to give them every means possible to achieve those dreams. Just make sure they are their dreams.