Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wearing Someone Else's Clothes

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”~ Thomas A. Kempis

While shopping for girls clothes at a local department store, a few days ago, I couldn’t help overhearing a mother and daughter arguing while they scanned items on a rack. Frustrated, the mother turned toward another lady and sighed as she conveyed to her friend her inability to convince her daughter to wear ‘girl clothes.’

I briefly glanced at the mother as I walked away – her face was caked with excessive make-up, her hair was painstakingly kept in place by a generous amount of teasing and hairspray, and her attire spoke of a desperate attempt at stopping time and never getting old. The girl seemed just as frustrated as her mother, though her lack discontent was overshadowed by her mother’s imposing will to turn her young princess into a mirrored image of herself.

I left before the mother and daughter finalized any purchases, but as I walked out of the store I thought of how common it is for parents to live through their children, or to see their children as a continuation of themselves. Certainly, we all want to steer our offspring into a direction we believe will be beneficial to them, but is assumption of what is best for them always stemming from a neutral point of sheer good will, or could it be that at times we allow our own perception of things to get in the way?

What is good for one person is not necessarily good for another, even if they share a few pints of blood; similarly, what didn’t work out for one might, instead, be the saving grace of someone else. Imagine, for example, a mother whose dreams were sacrificed in the name of a relationship gone awry; would she keep her own bitter perception to herself, or would she try to convey her disappointment to her daughters, hoping to spare them the same fate? If she does, in fact, allow her personal, negative experiences to influence her teaching, she can rob her daughters of important experiences essential to their own growth as individuals.

I often see parents pushing children toward certain activities, even when their youngsters have no inclination toward them, only because those activities are something THEY would have liked to participate in. While it is nice to provide opportunities for children to spread their wings, their own preferences should be considered before anything else.

I hated sports and loved books, and I am sure there were plenty of times my father cringed when I turned my nose at watching a game with him, but thankfully, he never pushed the issue. My mother and sister lived – and still do, to an extent – for fashion and shopping; well, I didn’t like those either. When it came to recreational activities, I was the proverbial black sheep, but in the end, I liked what I liked, and being forced into the skin of a different person wasn’t going to magically turn me into someone I wasn’t.

Of course, we all have ideas of what we would like to see our children do, but I will always try to keep my two cents into my pockets. Will my sons and daughter follow the paths I think they will take? Maybe, or maybe not, but in the end my goal is to see them happy in the lives they have chosen.

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