Navigating Childhood Development: Ever Want Your Child to be Better Off than You?
Childhood is a rough time. Sit back, relax, take a deep breath, and go inside, to those fond memories you once had as a child. Examine the great times that were there, as you learned the finer points of your childhood experience. Remember the times of being popular. Remember all the friends you had that bolstered your self-esteem towards the success and position you knew you were capable of. Remember wooing and being wooed by that special person that caught your eye in the classroom, falling in love, and then living happily ever after. Remember being the center of everyone’s attention, as you rode your stallion towards inevitable success.
Or, maybe this was not your story. Maybe you remember being picked on, possibly about your weight, your complexion, maybe your shyness, or possibly the fact that you didn’t have enough friends, or maybe you were too boisterous and outspoken. Remember the dreams of showing up to school, and you were naked in front of the class. Remember those fond memories of a childhood once forgotten. Maybe, just maybe, you didn’t stand out. Maybe you became lost in the crowd, and you could not find any special place or circumstance that you could call your own, that you could grasp on to, as you tried to navigate the trying waters of developing your sense of self.
In many circumstances you probably do not remember those fond memories, and this is for a good reason. Our childhood journey, while a beacon of hope during the spring of life, stands as a bloodied, war-torn battle ground, one in which our soul (psyche) and least of all our mind has long strove to forget about. We employ psychological defenses against these story lines, the likes of which can stop any Super Bowl offense dead in its tracks. The memories hurt us, and the feelings associated with them are real, heart-felt, and tears at the very fabric of our being. We pushed them down for a reason, only one day to see these same story-lines arise for our children, as we strive to make their reality a somewhat better outcome than what we faced as a child.
Whether you were popular or not, cool or a nerd, a jock or a stoner, or the eccentric dramatist, you were subjected to the childhood trauma that builds the very character you bring with you to adult life. Somehow, I don’t think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, or even other so-called eccentric Billionaires were considered popular in their childhood. Let’s face it, in order to develop an attitude for success, one has to feel the heart wrenching taste of defeat and welcome its traumatic effects as a path to a lesson learned. Do you think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would have developed an attitude to take on thousands of nay-sayers who would have said they could not do what they did had they not faced defeat, and even worse, were the rising star in their childhood development. The answer is not only no, but it is in fact the major defeats and their ability to sit through the fears associated with being ostracised that allowed them to reach the pinnacle of success they have attained during their life.
As parents, will we all raise a next generation of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, George Soros’s, Warren Buffets, or even Donal Trumps? While a definite measure of success in any right, this is not the yardstick by which we should measure the success of our children, or even worse, judge our efficiency as parents. Childhood anxiety arises out of many circumstances, one of which is the unconscious, and even sometimes conscious expectations a parent places on their child to achieve better than they have in their own life. While hypocritical in many ways, this NORMAL parental expectation can have adverse effects on your child.
Your child is his or her own independent person. They feel, love, learn, yearn, dream, and find ways to live their life in a manner they deem appropriate. They look unto you, as their parent, to witness them with loving eyes, and support them in their journey. There psyche is not yet as developed, nor as wise with age as ours has become through the years. They have not experienced our years of successes and defeats, the lessons learned and that inevatible school of hard knocks that leaves behind the scars we bear and the stories we share about life and our favorite past times. But this is the beauty that the spring of life offers each new generation. Their job is to make sense of their individual direction, possibly learn from (but in most cases not) the heart felt lessons their parents have suffered, and develop into their independent, and successful people. Is this not the case for what we want from our children?
In trying to understand the complex scenarios your children undergo during their developmental journey, you must elicit help. Our psyche is fortified, and built upon a foundation to rid itself of unwanted traumas, especially those suffered in childhood. A trained developmental therapist can help you, not only to understand the difficulties your children face, but also to help them build the needed defenses to see losses not as a source of failure, but as an opportunity for a lesson learned.