What If My Child Makes Choices I Don’t Like

Lessons in Parenthood: Week 17

You have little children, you love them, you have hopes and dreams for them, you wonder what they will do with their lives, what will the become? Do you ever wonder about these things? What if they turn out do something you absolutely hate? It’s possible. What if they make choices that hurt you? It’s likely. What then?

This may be a premature thought for a parent of a 2-year-old and a baby, but it’s one of those questions that I feel like if I ask myself this 15 years from now it will be too late. The fact is, no parent agrees with and loves 100% of their child’s decisions in life. I think many parents wish for their child to turn out one way and they don’t. When asking myself about this, I find that there are two main ideas I keep coming back to: values and trust.

Maybe in reading this you were expecting to read something about how to raise your child in a way that they go the direction in life you want them to go. Well I’ll give you the short answer, it’s impossible. Your child is their own person. You can drive into them all your beliefs, convictions, and ideologies and they can still turn out totally different. Instead of looking at that as a bad thing, look at it positively. It’s what makes us unique individuals. It’s what makes life dynamic. So then, does it matter how you parent or what you teach them? Of course. This is where values come in. You may not be able to raise your child in a way that they do a specific job, but you can raise them with values that will be their guiding light.

Values are those things that are most important to you in life. They are the key ideas and factors that govern who you are and who you want to be. They are principles, ethics, morals, all rolled into one. They should be good things too. Things like love, integrity, honesty, gratitude, fun, dignity, and so on. You may not even know it, but you already have your values. They push you to do the things you do. You may just not know exactly what they are yet because you’ve never thought about it. They are the things that get you the most fired up. Those are the things that you can teach your children.

One of our values is Love. I may not be able to ensure that Olivia marries the person I think she should marry or that she pursues the career I want her to pursue, but I can teach her Love. That in all things, we love. We love people, we love ourselves, we love each other. If I can teach her to love herself and love others, that will be an asset to her life that will make her good to herself and good to others. That’s important to me. And I believe that if she truly has Love as her core value, she will make better decisions in life. If that’s the case, I shouldn’t worry about who she marries or what she does because I know that her beliefs will lead her to make the best choice for her. Hopefully, she will make a better choice for herself than I ever could because she will know herself better than I know her.

And that leads me to trust. When she finally does go out on her own and lives in the world and is makes all her own decisions and mistakes, I have to trust that it will all work out. Somehow, it just will. Even when she trips up, even when she makes mistakes, somehow she will get through it, learn from it, and make it right. If I raised her the best I could then I should believe in this. I should be able to trust the process. Trust that the values I taught her will not only get her through life, but give her a most incredible life.

The tough part about parenting is that we don’t know how it will all turn out. We don’t know if what we’re doing today will benefit our children when they’re adults or if it will have been a mistake. All we can do is our best. Some days our best is great and some days our best is downright awful. And one day, if our children have children, they will understand that too.