Many parents pressure their children to follow the same paths they followed, or ones that they believe are “best” for them, particularly with regard to education and vocation decisions, religious choices, and cultural and social activities. These parents are typically very controlling and have high expectations of their children, and consequently usually do not accept their children’s personal wishes and desires. (For other defining traits, please see my post, “Is This Tiger Mom Out of Control?”)
Such parental non-acceptance has several major shortcomings. One is that it leads to conflict and resentment by both parent and child, and resulting damage to their relationship. It also deprives children of the ability to explore, expand, and spread their wings, and gain the self-confidence and self-reliance that come with that. (For other harms, please see my post, “Over Controlling Parents–Harm Now Confirmed.”)
Conversely, when parents are more accepting of their children’s choices and desires, unexpected and remarkable gifts often follow. To illustrate this, let me share with you the interesting story of Eda and Katarina.
Eda Pressures Katarina to Be in Latvian Scouts
Eda had fond memories of participating in Latvian girl scouts while growing up in Cleveland. She always looked forward to the two-week summer sleep away camps in the peaceful forests of Wisconsin, where she learned practical survival skills and Latvian cultural traditions and folk songs.
When her daughter Katarina was born, Eda eagerly awaited the time when she could also participate in Latvian scouts. Eda had high expectations that Katarina would enjoy, and gain as much from, scouts as she had. And in the beginning, Katarina did, when at ages six through nine she attended weekend summer mini-camps with her mother. However, as Katarina entered adolescence and began attending longer 10-day camps without her mother, she felt out of place and excluded by the other girls. Some even made prejudicial remarks about her different religious upbringing.
Katarina thus voiced resistance to continuing in scouts. Eda strongly encouraged Katarina to continue, promising things would get better. Katarina gave in and agreed to attend camp the following summer, but when things were no better, she became very adamant about not continuing in scouts. The two argued a lot whenever the subject was raised, harming their close bond.
Eda Finally Accepts Katarina’s Wishes
After conferring with several close friends, Eda realized that her desires were unfair to impose on her daughter. Eda thus came to accept that it was important to honor her daughter’s wishes. Eda consequently told Katarina that she no longer had to continue in scouts, and apologized for pressuring her so much over the past few years. Simply put, short, Eda “released” Katarina to follow her own path.
Unexpected Rewards Followed
Katarina’s path took a curious, unexpected turn. One day about six months later, to her mother’s surprise, Katarina announced that she wanted to rejoin scouts and attend the upcoming summer’s camp. Over the next three years, Katarina actively participated in scouts, earning successive achievement awards (colored scarves) given by camp elders only after campers passed stringent tests. She was also selected to be on the scout leadership board that planned and supervised activities for the younger campers.
And what would have been scarcely predictable, Katarina become close friends with some of the very campers that had previously shunned her.
Thus, by accepting her daughter’s personal desires and allowing her to choose her own path, Eda was bestowed with the very blessings she had always wanted.
The Gifts of Acceptance
True acceptance frees others to be more fully themselves, without pressure or judgment, and thereby make the choices and follow the paths that are invariably best for them. (For other benefits see my post “Five Good Reasons for Accepting People as They Are”)
In that sense, acceptance is a true expression of our love and kindness.
Do you accept your children’s life paths? Was it difficult to do? What helped? Have you experienced any gifts of acceptance? Please share your story with me and others.
In the meantime, remember to
Let It Go–and Accept “What Is!”
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