Saturday, March 10, 2007

 

Placed Expectations

When you have children, you try your darndest not to screw them up too badly in raising them. (For example, you'd like them not to leave cracker crumbs all over the computer keyboard, which is the current state of my keyboard, thank you very much.) I think one of the ways we subconsciously mess with our kids is by pigeon-holing them, placing expectations on them based on what they show us. Our oldest son showed a particular artistic genius early on, creating realistic drawings replete with foreshortening and correct perspective when he was five or six years old. He has so consistently shown this ability that he's been pegged as an artist and, of course, we brag about it. Our daughter is gifted with money managing abilities that would put most adults to shame. She's sensible and responsible, not only with money, but with many other things. Our youngest son is energetic and physical and has a sparkling personality that acts as a magnet and attracts people to him. He started talking when he was seven months old and has a magnificient gift of the gab. Innocently enough, and by following their original leads, we've come to expect these things of our children. We don't want to lock them into these molds, but it has happened without our quite realizing it. When I attended my youngest son's conferences and his art teacher said that he was really creative, I was pleased as punch, and thought, why, of course he is, but, honestly, I hadn't really attributed artistic creativity to him as much as I had to his older brother. This is silly. Traits can be mixed and matched between children and our kids can share qualities such as creativity. Sharing is good. I have noticed that all are good writers and interested in science and history. All are creative, but each expresses it differently.

This thought process makes me wonder if siblings from other families that appear to be diametrically opposed to each other in interests and personalities were shunted along these lines by the parents' placed expectations. It makes me want to try harder not to do this.

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