The moment you first meet your child, your heart opens up to an extent you could never imagine. Your eyes glisten with awe, curious to see what they will like, what will inspire them, who they will grow into.
But only as they grow older will you notice their uniqueness, their self-expression. Whether you notice their individuality through the clothes they choose to dress themselves in, or the colours they are most attracted to, or the makeup they decide to wear, often their imaginations are portrayed through physical expression. And as parents, we must embrace that.
As parents, we often have perceived notions and often ideals of what our children will aspire to be right from the moment they arrive into this world. Perhaps you have spent hours looking at their little faces, imagining what they will look like in their future. Perhaps you’ve already purchased their Fall attire, daydreaming of their perfectly curated outfits running through autumn leaves.
Despite how you possibly imagined your child before their arrival, there’s true beauty in accepting them for who they are and for whom they’ve always were meant to be. But there’s no doubt that there may lay a tiny bit of mourning towards the child that you had pictured in your mind. The one who didn’t argue with what to wear or the one who willingly accepted your styling suggestions.
There is absolute control, when they are dependent, but absolute power in allowing your child to have that independent thought and choice based on their own developing opinions.
Allowing your child to dye their hair, though you may not personally like it, is admirable. Cheering them on as they choose what to wear can be uplifting. Encouraging them to express their imagination and creativeness through physical expression is very important, no matter who you thought you’d be raising.
Regardless of how different their taste in things may be from yours, they are young, they are growing, and most importantly they are learning; they are learning what they appreciate most in life and what allows their creativity to thrive.
As adults, we’ve all tested the waters. From fashion style, to music, to the hairstyles we chose. But if we had not discovered what we did not like, we would not have known what to choose. Let’s not rush this process for our children. Let’s allow them to discover themselves on their own timeline and on their own terms.
Do not hold close the memory of that child you once believed to be the ideal offspring. Do not manipulate your child’s choice, no matter their age, when it comes to expressing themselves in a safe and creative way. Do not force your own aspirations onto that child if they are uninterested, as it will likely lead them to years of resentment and potential confusion. But guide them, so they have an idea of the choices available to them.
If we encourage our children to grow into the individuals that they were always meant to be, they will develop into a confident, coherent and contributing member of society. Potentially even leaders.
If we choose to project the image to which we’re potentially, unconsciously desiring for our child, we will encourage that child to stress. They will pick up on our intentions, and hopefully rebel. For any individual, child or adult, settling against one’s better judgment simply to satisfy someone else’s wishes will always lead to lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Resistance fosters resistance. We must let go of the image of who our child should be and accept them for who they are.
Give permission to your child to wear that tutu to the grocery store if they so choose. Allow your kid to put stickers all over their binder for the first day of school, if that’s what they want to do.
Allowing your child permission to express themselves in ways which won’t hurt them or others, is an incredible opportunity for them to discover who they are through their own expression.
Words by Julian Jamie