Abraham Lincoln said, “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” If you are a parent who is having trouble accepting that your expectations are different from your child’s—even if your “child” is a grown-up—try this:

  1. Think about yourself at your child’s age.
  2. Imagine yourself as though seen through the eyes of your own parents
  3. List your perceived failures using your parents’ perspective of you
  4. Notice which of their perceived failures turned out to be opportunities for your success, in other words, best for you.
  5. Consider if the same might be true for your child.

The goal is for parents to begin to see how they have inadvertently used their child to feed or deplete their own self esteem (which often comes as a shock to parents).

Fill in the blanks:

  1. At first I thought that…
  2. Deep down I believe that a good parent always does _______for his child.
  3. One thing I knew for sure is that parents are responsible for their child’s _______ and _______. This just never changes regardless of their age.
  4. If I’m really honest, I’d have to admit that every parent should _______ for their child.
  5. Now reframe your answers.

Fill in the blanks:

But now I know that…

  1. Deep down I believe that a parent can love a child and also not do _______for his child.
  2. Parents are responsible for their child’s _______ and _______ up to a certain age--and that responsibility should revert to the child to achieve with dignity.
  3. If I’m really honest, I’d have to admit that I wish I could do  _______ for my child because it makes me feel wanted, but that my child is perfectly capable of doing it him/herself, even if she/he has his/her own issues...because, didn't I have my own issues, too?

Revisit these exercises to get a new view of you and your mindset anytime. 

About the Author

Meredith Resnick, L.C.S.W.

Meredith Resnick, L.C.S.W., is a health writer and licensed social worker. She is also the mother of two adopted daughters.

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