We live in a world full of different opinions, styles, beliefs, and ideas. Why then, do some seem shocked when their children voice different opinions or ideas?
It is our job to cultivate and encourage independence and individuality in our children. We should embrace their differences as they become their true selves.
Here are 5 goals parents should use to encourage individuality in their children.
1. we must remember that children are not clones of ourselves. They are their own, separate people. They should be allowed to form their own opinions, even if you disagree with their opinions. Their interests, ideas, and beliefs should be nourished. If your daughter wants to wear sneakers to the prom instead of the fancy shoes you picked out for her, it’s okay. Let her wear the sneakers. Let her be herself. Don’t squelch that individuality.
2. As parents, it is our job to teach our children, to direct them and help them learn how to exist in this crazy world. We must remember to teach and correct them in a positive and loving way. The key factor here is to avoid criticism. Criticism can be considered toxic and could lead to resentment.
3. We’ve all overheard the mother in the dressing room or salon pointing out her child’s flaws. Adolescents have acne. Guess what? They know they have acne. You don’t need to point it out to them. Their weight, their hair, their clothes, on and on. Let them be themselves. If you feel something needs attention, find a way to calmly and lovingly approach the subject without any criticism. The quickest way to tear down a child is to criticize them, especially in a public setting.
4. Boundaries! Most neighborhoods have fenced in backyards. These are boundaries. They say, “Hey! This is my area and that is your area!” Boundaries are important in relationships as well, especially between children and parents. There should be privacy and respect not only from the child but also from the parent. The title of mother or father doesn’t automatically give you a master key into every aspect of your child’s life. Respect that! Your relationship will be healthier.
5. Always encourage your children. You don’t really understand their love of folk music, but it makes them happy. Encourage them to listen to it. You don’t understand their fashion choices, but you want them to be themselves. Encourage that individual spark. I’m not saying we encourage violence or anything negative. Simply encouraging your child to pursue interests and individual style will mean more to them that you know.
These are the goals I have set for myself in my own parenting journey. These are the goals I’ve learned from countless women, trial and error, and my own childhood.
These could be applied to other relationships as well.