When we become parents, it's hard sometimes to remember that our children are separate individuals, with unique abilities, talents, and personalities. Yet it's extremely important to learn how to balance our own goals for them with the interests they have for themselves. Let's talk about how we can better seek personal goals as parents, while still investing in our children's interests.

Parental Desires vs Children's Desires

This can be the toughest thing to balance as your children grow! Of course as parents, we only want what is best for our children, right? But how many times do we force our own desires on them while telling them it's for their own good? Sometimes we are perfectly justified, such as when our children refuse to try new things, or when they are reckless and apt to do something that could prove significant harm.

Parental desires for their children's sports interests or their favorite hobby are things we should try to put aside. As a father, you might have a dream that your son will grow to be a Heisman candidate or that your daughter will be the next gold medal-winning Olympic figure skater, but if your son turns out to be 5'6" and 140 pounds, you obviously have to adjust your desires. Likewise if you learn that your daughter would rather solve math problems than play any sport at all.

Letting Children Decide

I'm an advocate of encouraging your children to try lots of different activities. This is a necessary part of really determining what they like, and it's documented that playing a sport can be beneficial for kids. After they've given football or ballet a chance and they really don't enjoy it, then allow them to move on to something else. This is where watching your children for specific talents, skills, and abilities comes in handy. For example, a mother notices that her daughter is naturally fast at running, so she encourages her to try out for the track team.

After you've noticed specific talents, and encouraged your children to build on them, let your children decide if they enjoy that activity. If they don't, be supportive and encourage them to try something new.

Investing in Children's Interests

Once your children have chosen interests or activities that they enjoy, give them the space to be themselves, and be supportive of them--even if it's not something you ever expected or encouraged them to try. Knowing that their parents support them and believe in them is paramount to developing children's confidence and self-esteem. I know a set of parents whose daughter wanted to try musical theater. This is something her father was never interested in {he's a sports fanatic!} but once he saw her talent how much she truly enjoyed that activity, musical theater became a new interest for him. You might actually discover a new interest of your own!

Investing in your children's interests--not just monetarily but emotionally too--only pays you dividends of love from grateful children. Allow them to be who they are, and when they grow they will thank you for it. If your end goal is happy, well-developed and grateful children, you will have met your goal!

Author's Bio: 

Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative designs. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn