Our children are literally a piece of us and from the day they are born we are eager to uncover our similarities. It starts by looking for similarities in eyes, lips, fingers or feet. As the child grows, the link to similarities expands to their laugh, smile and curiosity. Once they start school the tendency to look for similarities is second nature. Grades become tied to the ability, or inability, of parents, grandparents or distant relatives. (Uncle Billy worked for NASA, so naturally Little Johnny is wonderful at science.) Written out in this manner, it seems like a huge exaggeration. Right? We can’t help ourselves from taking pride in our similarities. But, what happens when they are not like you?
Like many ten year olds, my daughter participates in multiple activities. Not wanting to be the “tiger mom” (forcing her to do the activities that I want her to), I’ve let her decide. A couple years ago when she said she wanted to play softball, I was excited. Softball was a major part of my childhood, so this was definitely a “she’s like me” moment. She enjoyed it, made lots of new friends and always did her best. I was happy when she decided to keep playing. This season she has become the girl who will try anything. When the two team catchers were going to miss the same game, the coach looked for volunteers. My daughter was open to trying it, put on the gear and ended up loving it. I was excited to see her excited about playing. We got her some gear and a great big bag to put it in. I dropped her off excited to see how she would do that night behind the plate. But when game time came, she was not behind the plate, she was on the mound. What was going on? She had never pitched a day in her life. It turns out two of our pitchers were out of town and one had the flu. No one else on the team had ever pitched before and without one we would have to forfeit. The coach asked her if she wanted to try and she said sure. And in that moment, she was not like me. Growing up I was very competitive and I liked to be good at things. I can’t imagine myself at ten years old going out in a game, doing something I had never practiced, in fear that I wouldn’t be very good at it. In this moment she couldn’t have been more opposite of me and I couldn’t have been more proud.
As humans we find comfort in people who are like us, who share our interests and who are understanding of our point of view. As parents we naturally look for similarities with our children in order to relate to them and guide them through familiar territory. What we learn is that through our differences, our children switch roles and end up guiding us.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.