You had all these ideas about what being a father would be. You looked forward to fixing cars together. Or watching your favorite movies. Or taking them to all the places you loved as a kid.
This is wonderful and certainly it comes from the right place: that you want to spend time with them, that you have ideas for ways to connect and to teach them. But it’s important that you’re also open to being led by who they are and what they want, and not just your own desires and ideas.
“Sometimes we create expectations for our children that come from a self-centered place,” Madison Wickham, the founder of Total Frat Move and a father, explained to us. “We loved baseball growing up, so we want our kids to love baseball too. We get frustrated when they show indifference towards the childhood activities we cherish.”
Remember: We have to treat each of our children differently. We have to be flexible. We have to encourage them to be who they can be, not what we want them to be. His advice is that you “don’t force your interests on your children. Observe them and identify what activities they gravitate towards. Then do everything you can to nurture those interests.”
Think of Einstein’s father giving him that compass. Of Martha Graham’s parents supporting her love of dance. It’s not for us to force our interests on them, but to develop what they are fascinated by. We have to encourage, whatever our expectations were.