Our family had a great get together with the family of friend of mine, Kirsten. During the discussion, my middling daughter said that compared to the rest of her family she wasn’t geek, but compared to everyone else, she was. This brings up something that I hope we have become attuned to. She feels different, in her own family.
How many of us felt different in their own family, or at least so different from their siblings that they felt a bit left out?
I don’t think we necessarily wanted our parents to like what we did. Just to understand it. Granted, I have little cause to complain. I learned my love of all things science and science fiction from my dad. Read from his bookshelf. And the whole family watched National Geographic, Nova and Cosmos together. It was my parents that took me to Star Wars that first year it came out, clear back in 1977. Our family (my sister and I both young and probably whiney) stood in a line that went around the corner. (Ah bliss, so glad we can buy tickets ahead of time online now, with reserved seats!) But my poor mom had a daughter with very few “girly” interests, and I wasn’t interested in any of her books.
Parents who differ a lot from their children need to make a strong effort to understand what it is that interests their children, and not just discount it because they don’t like it.
It is marvelous that our children can have interests different from ours. It means they are their own person.
Children aren’t our minions. They aren’t our colleagues. Or our therapists. And they certainly aren’t copies of ourselves. It is our job to help guide them, but they might need something different than we did. And it might not be horrible to admit to a child that you never went through that, so you aren’t sure what to do but let’s think together about it? Children won’t disdain you for trying to understand them. Saying something like, “I totally don’t get this kind of music, what bands do you think are cool?” when doing something like searching for a gift for them, is a great thing. They’ll love it that you are trying to understand, and taking the time with them. Take the time to look at what they are showing you, and don’t just dismiss it. But if you still really don’t like it (and if it isn’t an issue of character or moral standards) just say: well, I don’t like it but I think it’s cool that you do.
But here is the other difficulty. What if the whole family but one child wants watch a movie, or play a certain game? We want to be together as a family, but forcing that other person to do somethign they hate isn’t going to encourage family togetherness. Now, of course, we can do something everyone agrees one. But then the rest of us may still want to do the thing that leaves the one person out.
I bet some of you have some good answers out. Ours is to just do in anyway sometimes, or if possible do those things when whoever doesn’t care is doing another activitiy at the time.