Parents underestimate the importance of the fact that there are two images in their minds when they bring up children: an image of a child, an ideal child, and an image of a grown up, an ideal man, whom their child would hopefully become. Most disappointments in parenting come from a mismatch between reality and the ideal. When children are small parents think for them and tell them what to do. Parents expect children to be dependent. When children become adults and live in society, parents expect them to think for themselves and not wait until other people tell them what to do. In other words, parents expect them to be independent.
Here they are – our children. Still boys and girls, striving to be independent. They are loud, when we want quiet, and quiet when we want them to be assertive; they are unskilled, clumsy, messy, in one word – imperfect. Do we need to mold them to be perfect children to fit our ideal images? What if, in our way, we accidentally push down their spirits and hold back their striving for independence? Or, do we rather hold back our teaching passion and let them make their mistakes, which hopefully they out grow by the time they are adults?
The solution is inevitable. Our image of the ideal child stops being ideal, in terms of being “perfect.” We see our real child and he is far from perfect. But we say, “Perfect! This is how a child is supposed to be.” Now what? Now it is time to ponder on the image of an ideal man. How does independence develop in a man? Do we need to give a child freedom? What is this freedom about? Is it freedom to do anything, say anything, scream anything? “There must be boundaries, limits,” ague many parenting experts. But why do some children feel free even in a corner of a room, and some children go wild in a huge house and still feel dependent? Maybe it is time to make clear what we know about boundaries, independence, responsibility, and freedom. The result of a parenting project completely depends on the clarity of these concepts.
As any project starts in the mind of its planner, upbringing of children starts in the mind of parents. The clearer understanding, the greater the result will be on the road from ideal child to ideal man.