I meet a lot of people when I do talks who tell me they are frustrated that their kids aren’t “behaving” or “going with the plan” that they have in mind for their future.
“It’s for their own good!” They will insist. “They just don’t listen.”
Often times, I think these parents are trying to force their kids into activities that they don’t enjoy because a part of them wishes they could be doing it themselves. Whether it’s through sports or God forbid one of those child pageants, it’s usually not the kids idea. It’s mom or dad living out some life-long dream by making their kids get up at 7am to go to hockey practice.
I came across a story about a man named Shaun Sperling who is now a litigation attorney in Chicago. When he was 13 back in 1992, he was obsessed with Madonna, so he asked his mom if he could have a Madonna themed bar mitzvah. She agreed and they had Madonna busts all over the reception, posters, t-shirts, you name it. He learned the entire “Vogue” routine and performed it in a video that was posted in August and has now gone viral. He practiced everyday for his sister and his dance moves are very fun to watch.
Today, reflecting on his experience with Headline News, he writes,
Even today, as an attorney at a law firm in Chicago, I am still just me — flamboyant, outgoing, ridiculous me. I am thrilled that the video is all over the place making people smile and laugh. I hope that as people watch the video, they can see that being authentic and true to one’s self — no matter how outside the box — is the only real path to success and happiness.
So if you are a parent- encourage your kids to be who they are- not who you want them to be. Even if it goes outside of your belief system. Change comes from inspiration, not imposition. The more you force your kid to be something they are not, the bigger the wedge you will create between you and your child.
Because whether they are dancing or running or singing or reading, they are incredible human beings. And every child deserves the right to be authentic in order to succeed.