An Australian TV personality had a daughter. Being successful herself, she had high expectations of her daughter and had pushed her hard to succeed. Her daughter had excelled at school, winning numerous awards and becoming an accomplished violinist. Upon completion of high school, she was accepted into medicine at university. Her mother was thrilled all her parenting efforts had paid off and that her daughter was on the path to becoming a doctor. To celebrate, she took her family out for lunch.
At the restaurant, the mother smiled as she viewed her family around the table. Everyone appeared happy and relaxed and as her eyes rested upon her daughter, she smiled. Her daughter caught her eye and smiled back at her. The mother stood, raised her glass to toast her daughter and gave an eloquent speech joking about the blood, sweat and tears she had put in to help her daughter achieve and praising her for her success. Her daughter’s face glowed as she looked up at her delighted mother. As her mother sat down she lovingly took her mother’s hand in hers, leaned into her and whispered in her ear, “I did it all to make you happy”.
The mother froze. Her heart fell to the floor as she realised she had never once asked her daughter what made her happy.
This is a true story. Sometimes, all our pushing and worry about our children’s future might just get us what we wanted. However, this ‘success’ we seek is not real success. When our pushing makes us lose sight of who our children are and disrupts their ability to find and follow their passion, then what we are seeking is not success, but our own validation. Real success is helping our child discover what it is that makes them jump out of bed each morning to pursue that which they love. Let’s help them fulfill their own dreams, not ours.
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