So last week, when reading through IBOT posts, I came across this one from Emily over at Mama Going Solo, and it got me thinking. I’d encourage you to read it, but in a nutshell, she was talking about the personality traits she can already see developing in her little girl, and how that’s going to influence her future. She asked the question ‘do I have the right to decide her future?’ Something I think all of us can probably identify with a little.
A little later, I read another post (I’ve forgotten where sorry), that was talking about a similar idea, but was perhaps much more opinionated in their thinking. The author was arguing that a child is born a certain way, and we as parents are required to love and accept that child as is, and not try to change them at all. A valid point absolutely, but it got me thinking: is it entirely accurate?
There is nothing more important to a child than the unconditional love and acceptance of a parent; that is non negotiable and we all know that. But the idea that we should never seek to ‘change’ our child? Just how far does that go?
I’m a big believer in both nature and nurture working together. I think that all of us are born with a certain set of skills or talents; there are character traits that are inherent and can’t be changed. We are all wired a particular way. When my babies were born, they all behaved differently in their first few hours of life. Taylah was relaxed and cruisy, Bridie clingy and cuddly, Bailey quite put out by the whole being birth thing, and Ava was born knowing it all. I remember gazing at their little faces, noticing these little quirks and filing them to the back of my mind as our first moments together.
Little did I know that those hours would be a sign of things to come. My little people, whilst much more complex and grown up now, are still very similar to those newborns I met. Taylah is still relaxed and cruisy, Bridie still loves to cuddle me at any opportunity, BJ doesn’t love things changing, and really enjoys routine, and Ava still knows it all. :)Who they were was there from the minute they arrived in this world.
And I love who they are.
No doubt about it.
Having said that, they still need to change. We all need to change. I don’t go one day looking at myself thinking that I am perfect and nothing about me needs altering; on the contrary, I am very aware of so many of my faults, and am constantly trying to improve who I am. Change is part of life; it’s part of growth. It’s necessary, and a wonderful thing.
Part of my job, as a parent then, is to know who my kids are, their strengths and weaknesses, and help them with both. It’s not enough for me to recognise leadership potential and just assume that my child should always be the boss; I need to recognise that potential and teach them how to be a good leader. That the ability to lead is best cultivated by the ability to serve. That good leaders are marked not by their charisma or natural organisational skills, but by their humility and character. Those things don’t often come naturally. They need to be nurtured.
The same can be said for any obvious gift our kids have. A talent at dance, sports, art or whatever, will go nowhere if we don’t have the self-control to cultivate the talent, and to say no to things that will hold it back.
A child who is naturally soft-spoken and shy and may grow to be the worlds most incredible quiet achiever, also needs to learn to interact socially in a polite way. For some kids their greatest battle will be to learn to fight their fear and just say ‘hello’ back to an adult. And as a mum, it’s my responsibility, to help that child move from their natural state of shyness, to polite behaviour.
So I guess what I’m saying, is that whilst our kids need to be accepted and loved just as they are, that doesn’t mean they don’t need improving, for lack of a better word. But rather a gentle guidance that is going to help them to be the best version of exactly who they were meant to be.
What’s your view? Should we be trying to change our kids?
Or just let them be?