You had her pegged from the first time she put her hand on her hip the same way you do. “Just like her mama,” everyone said. It was cute when she was a toddler, but now? Not so much. Maybe she’s too much like you, mimicking your weaknesses. Or maybe she’s a bit like you, but she doesn’t seem to be living up to her full potential. There are some pretty predictable ways you may be responding to your mini-me child without intending to — or even realizing it. Consider taking a step back and evaluating whether you may be falling into one of these pitfalls.
Excusing Problem Behavior
Do you find yourself recognizing the same weaknesses in your teen as you do in yourself? Perhaps some of them are ones you’d rather not admit — partly because you haven’t overcome them or don’t want to try. Some cited this kind of thinking to explain why so many Americans still supported Bill Clinton’s presidency, even after his affair with Monica Lewinsky was made public: to condemn him would be to condemn themselves.
As parents, we’re not doing ourselves or our kids any favors by overlooking problem areas in our or their lives. A judgmental, condemning attitude is not needed in order to confess sin (if appropriate), to try harder (if possible), or to seek help (if needed). Maybe it’s something you can even do together, as you grow.
Coming Down Hard
Some parents may more easily react the opposite way, when they see their own weaknesses reflected in the lives of their children. They may be reacting out of fear that their kids continue to struggle the way they have, or they may react out of anger at their own insufficiency.
If this is your tendency, try to evaluate how you handle similar weaknesses or problems in your other children. If you have been coming down disproportionately or inappropriately hard, the best thing you can do is to apologize to your son or daughter and explain why you have acted the way you have.
This kind of openness can open the door to allowing you to share the way you’ve grown through or past a similar struggle in your own life, giving you the chance to use your similarities to draw you closer, rather than further apart.
Projecting Personal Expectations
Just because your child is like you in some areas doesn’t mean his IQ or other aptitudes are identical to yours. Sometimes, we make false assumptions and expect our kids to measure up to what we know is or was reasonable for us when, in fact, they’re unique individuals, strong in some areas where we’re weak and weak where we are strong.
Continue reading with Part 2.
Of course, sometimes we can also make our (unfulfilled) dreams into our (unfair) goals for them, trying to live life better than we ever did, but this time through our child. Not only is that kind of thinking unfair to them, it robs us of the potential for a real relationship with our mini-me.