Defining Success

How do you define success as a parent?  Is it dependent on your child’s abilities and talents?  This is a common issue for many families.

I have to be honest, I am never impressed when I hear someone rattle off all the activities that little Johnny is involved in.  I’m not moved by the fact a teenager is taking on a heavy load of AP courses, working and involved in sports.

As a matter of fact, I actually start to feel sorry for the kid.  The only way I might not is if I have full assurance the extra-curricular activities and hectic schedule is the child’s choice.  But how often is that the case?

Sometimes parents set standards that are so high, it can leave children feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  Their number one goal suddenly becomes making their parents happy, with the result of foregoing their own happiness.

Now I am all for advanced classes, working, sports and clubs.  It’s not that there is anything wrong with these things.  In fact, it can help keep some children out of trouble, if they are kept busy.

Where it starts to cross the line is when it’s too much and it has become the measuring line of success in a parent’s eyes.  To me, the only way around this is for our children to find their own way of defining success.

What a parent believes makes a person successful may not be in line with what their child thinks.  So if a parent pushes their definition of it on the child, it can create a host of problems.

It’s healthy for children to set their own goals and standards.  They need to learn how their own choices and decisions can be good or bad.  This is how they learn to navigate life.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that parents don’t have a say or aren’t allowed to be involved in the process.  But there has to be balance with this.

Put it this way.  How would you like it, if someone else was telling you what success in your life should look like?