Every parent has a dream for their child’s future. We start imagining outcomes for our kids soon after they are born. Most of these dreams include a way of life that seemed to elude us. We want better for our kids. A life that has less stress and more financial freedom. A common dream most parents have is to afford their child a college education. For some, getting their kids through college is the ultimate goal. From there, it’s up to the adult child to go wherever that diploma leads them. At this point most parents sit back and breath a sigh of relief. The dream of the parent has been realized for their child. Life is good.
Only, parents can’t seem to stop forming new dreams even at this stage. We’re only parents after all. We want what’s best for our kids. Even when our kids are no longer kids. Even when the college diploma is in hand we start dreaming of the next step we think our kids should make. “Wouldn’t it be nice if they settled down and gave us some grand kids”. ‘Wouldn’t he make a fine husband and father”. We imagine the perfect holidays with our grown children gathered around us. We include imaginary grandchildren around the Christmas tree. We continue to dream dreams for our kids, only whose dreams are they? In reality we are placing so much pressure on them to fit into this picture we have created, of what their lives should look like.
The shock of learning that your child’s dreams are so different from your own for them can be earth shattering. An alternative life style can be many things. In the eyes of a parent any lifestyle that greatly deviates from their accepted values may be deemed alternative. This is where someone has to release their dreams and embrace another. If you wish to continue to have a loving and harmonious relationship with your adult child the change has to begin with you. It is helpful to keep in mind what the important thing is here. The happiness of your child. Accepting whatever way of life that makes them happy will draw them closer to you.
‘But what if their lifestyle is so foreign to me that I can’t wrap my mind around it”? Good question. One way to learn acceptance is to take your experience of life out of the equation. No one expects you to understand the why of what makes them happy. All you need to do is accept the means for their happiness. If the issue is one of sexual orientation then their isn’t much choice involved. It is important to remember that sexual orientation is inherent from birth. Accepting and loving your child as a whole is crucial to them and their happiness.
It is never easy to let go of your dreams for your child. In every parent/child relationship it is critical for the parents dreams to fade as the child dreams begin to take shape. Unconditional love by definition means there are no circumstances that would cause you to withhold love. An open heart is only achieved by way of an open mind. Ease in to this new territory by replacing those mental pictures of what the future would hold for your child. Imagine a blank canvas instead of that Christmas tree with the family of your future around it. Dip a paint brush in a pot full of fresh paint and hand it to your child. Ask them to paint you a picture of what they want their future to look like. By embracing their dreams and allowing them to become the creator and author of their lives you give them the freedom to be who they were meant to be. Perfect in every way and accepted for who they are.