WT 084: Are My Kids Supposed to Turn Out Like Me?

When your child is young and still finding their likes and dislikes, it’s easy to assume they will have interests that mirror your own. As they grow and mature you quickly realize they’ve fallen in love with interests all their own, and you’re left wondering where you fit in with them. Listen to Karen discuss what it’s like when your kids do or don’t think and act like you.

Question 1: Karen, my teenage daughter and I have opposite interests. She’s an amazing athlete and is always involved in sports. I support her of course, but am not a sports buff. When I try to carve out some one-on-one time with her, I feel like she isn’t interested. What are some ways I can connect with her better and find common interests we both enjoy?

Karen's Answer: If I were you, I would try getting into her world. If she is an athlete, learn about her favorite teams and favorite sports. Try to find some common ground.   All my children were different and I resonated with some of their interests more than others. Kelsey liked theater; I didn’t. But, I learned to like it. Emily rode horses and was on the equestrian team. I learned to appreciate her love of horses and I learned to like the meets. Taylor played golf which I thought was super boring. I learned to love the game and enjoyed walking the golf course watching him play his matches. Abby liked tennis; and, I did too, so that was an easy fit. You can get into her athletic world, it will just take a little effort.

Question 2: My kids are very brave and have a desire to go on mission trips and I have two going to Africa this spring for the first time. While I’m so so proud of them and their heart for others, I am a worrier and am thinking of all the situations they could find themselves in. How can I better trust God with my courageous child?

Karen's Answer: Sweet, mom! I get it. It’s so hard, isn’t it? I had to constantly remind myself that my children are not mine; they’re God’s children. He alone will protect them. When I say, ‘constantly’, I mean it literally. Fear can sweep over a mom’s heart like no other. We can’t allow fear to control us especially in parenting. Otherwise, we will parent out of fear which isn’t good.

Share with your children how amazing they are in their faith. Tell them that they’re lack of fear inspires you. Let them know you’re going to follow their lead.

Question 3: Karen, manners are very important to me. Always have been, always will be. It’s the southern woman in me! To my husband and two young boys though, not so much. I try my best to let them know how having good manners with me is important, but I don’t feel like it’s effective. What should I do? I don’t feel like manners is something I just need to let go.

Karen's Answer: Great question! I get it; I’m the same way. First, forget about your husband. He’s a grown man. If he hasn’t seen the importance of manners yet, it’s a losing battle. For your boys however, I would keep correcting them. Word to the wise, pick your battles. Don’t constantly nag them because they will tune you out completely. I used these phrases with my children: “That’s gross.”, “You aren’t going to find a girlfriend/boyfriend doing that.” and my favorite, “That’s disgusting!”.

Question 4: Karen, how do you instruct your kids on life things when you’re not the best example? I want my kids to exercise and eat healthy, but I’m not always great at it. I also tell them to be nice and not throw tantrums, when they’ve seen me get cranky more than a few times.

Karen's Answer: I love your honesty! I have to answer your honesty with my honesty; the truth is we are all human. None of us are perfect. You teach what you know is best and you can even admit to your child, “I struggle with eating healthy too! I would much rather have ice cream or chips over an apple. But I will live a better, healthier life if I choose what I need before what I want.” Or you can ask, “How does it make you feel when mommy is cranky or in a bad mood?” Based on their response, you can say, “When you’re in a bad mood or not being nice to those around you, it makes me feel yucky too.”

I’m not excusing a mom’s bad behavior, just saying we all have good days and bad days. Keep teaching what’s right even when it’s hard to follow your own advice.

Healthy eating is hard. I would much rather have chips over a healthy snack. When Taylor was young and struggling with eating healthy, we made an agreement. We agreed to start choosing healthier foods, and we started a running program. We both hated to run (misery loves company), but we kept at it. I did it to help motivate him. I would sympathize with him and that bonded us.

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