Everybody wants to make their children happy. But, trying to make your children happy all the time is a bust. Nobody is happy all the time. You don’t want to teach your child that they must feel happy all the time. It’s easy to make that mistake. You want your child to have all of the things you didn’t have growing up. This will give them a false sense of security and will backfire.

You and your child don’t have to agree on everything. If you have been a parent for a while, then you may already know this. You may have enjoyed playing sports when you were a child. But, your child doesn’t seem to have much of an interest. Maybe, they enjoy playing the piano or art. That is alright. You put unnecessary pressure on your child when you expect them to like the same things you do.

This is also known as having differences. When it’s alright for you and your child to have differences, you are teaching your child that they don’t have to be like everyone else. As a human being you are complex, you are always changing. That is alright. Your child needs to learn the value of accepting others the way they are.

Here are 5 benefits of accepting the differences you and your child have:

  1. Your child will feel good about having their own dreams. It’s easy as a parent to want your child to be just like you. From the minute you found out you were pregnant, you had a dream for your child. Then your child was born, and you found out they were wired entirely different than you. When you accept your child for who they are, they will feel better about themselves. They will develop their own dreams and learn how to carry them out. This also teaches them that they don’t have to be like everyone else.
  2. Your child won’t grow up to be a pleaser. Children are wired to please. They want to please their parents. As a young child they believe they are pleasing you based on the feedback you give them. When your feedback is positive, they feel they have done a good job in pleasing you. When your feedback is negative, then they feel like they have failed at pleasing you. This basically sets the foundation. If they think they must always make you happy, you are setting the groundwork for your child to be a people pleaser. This is a slippery slope. Their self-esteem will based on whether or not they think they are doing a good job at pleasing others. This can lead to many other problems in the long run.
  3. Your child won’t buy into the myth that you must always be happy. In our culture it’s easy to feel like everyone is always happy. This can make your child feel bad, when they don’t always feel happy. As human beings we have a variety of emotions. You feel sad, angry, overwhelmed, etc. This is actually normal. Let your child learn to express all of their feelings.
  4. Your child will learn the importance of character. It’s easy as a parent to want your child to succeed and not to feel bad. It’s alright to succeed, but not at the expense of others. As a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the competitive spirit. You don’t want to teach your child, that it is alright to throw their friend under the bus to win at something. Character may not seem important as a child or an adolescent, but it is everything as an adult.
  5. You will teach your child not to judge others. As a parent it’s easy to judge other parents. Nobody is all good or all bad. You shouldn’t expect this of others or yourself. All parents make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from the mistake and you repair the mistake. This will teach your child the importance of forgiveness. Not only to forgive others, but to forgive themselves. Start to cut some slack to other parents. Let your child know why you are cutting them some slack. For example, you know when you don’t get a good night’s sleep you can be a little forgetful.

It’s hard when your child doesn’t like the same things you do. It may be even harder when you don’t like their friends. It’s important to let your child make their own choices, as they get older. Make sure to choose your words carefully. You don’t want to leave scars.

I find it helpful to talk about why you feel sad. Maybe, you are concerned about a new friend your child has. You noticed they miss a lot of school or don’t come over when they say they are going to. Make sure you let your child know what your concerns are upfront. This way they won’t feel judged.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many children and adolescents manage their differences with their family. For a 15 minute free phone consultation or more information, please call or email (650) 892-0357 or Lianne@LessonsforLove.com.

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