Let Them Write Their Own Scripts

It seems like it would be easy but as we have found out in the course of our own lives, it’s one of the hardest things in the world: Figuring out who you are, figuring out what your purpose is. Even now, with decades on this planet, as parents and professionals we are still figuring it out, still trying to get closer each day.

And yet, as a culture we continue to expect our kids to already know the answers to questions we’re still struggling with? We pressure them to make enormous decisions at a preposterously young age–what their hobbies and passions will be, what college to go to, what to major in, whether they should take on debt to do it, when to start saving to buy a house or a ring, and how much. Nevermind that we apply this pressure without giving them space to consider whether any of this stuff is for them in the first place!

Our kids have so comparatively little experience, so little wisdom, so little confidence. It’s insane. It’s more insane still that we confuse and disorient them with our own expectations and projections…even though we know how much our own parents confused us in this regard. Some of us are only now waking up to realize that we have been doing stuff our whole lives because we thought it’s what our mom and dad wanted us to do.

This is so unfair. “Finding one’s role at seventeen is problem enough,” Joan Didion would write, reflecting on her trials picking a college, “without being handed somebody else’s script.” Our job is not to write a script for them, it’s to help them write theirs–to help them become who *they were meant to be.* Our job isn’t to pressure them or criticize them or make them feel like they have to earn our approval or our support.

We’re there like a great producer–we provide the funding. We connect them with the right talent. We help them solve problems. We comfort them through disappointments and rejections. We help the artist realize their vision…and we gladly let them take all the credit when they succeed.

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