“You can be anything you want to be.”
Every parent has said that to their child at one point or another. As parents we want to encourage our child, not just in their imagination and ambition, but in their own sense of self-worth. Having dreams can be a healthy way of exploring the world around us.
Growing up, I was always a fan of literature and science. The more I studied in one subject or another, the more my interests would shift from one field to the next. Botanist, marine biologist, entomologist, and the obligatory fireman, because let’s face it, firemen are awesome.
My parents did nothing to discourage this, but neither did they do anything to encourage it. It wasn’t actually until many years later that I discovered my deep love of writing and pursued that.
(I am excited to feature another guest blog by Tyler Jacobson today. He covers the topic of helping your teen set realistic goals. I love his writing style, and I know you will too! )
The point is, just because I had these grandiose dreams as a child, they weren’t necessarily what I ended up becoming. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Dangers of Unrealistic Goals
That subtitle is scary to read, isn’t it? It wasn’t easy to write, either. Let me start by saying goals are good. They help set milestones, encourage growth, and can provide confidence and self-esteem as your child succeeds.
The dangers involved in unrealistic goals, however, are real, but also avoidable. The important thing is to be aware of them and teach the necessary lessons to your child to help avoid the dangers.
1. Unethical behavior.
When goals are set too high by either parents, teachers, or employers, and the penalty for not achieving the goals is a steep one, cheating occurs. Parents may think that they’re encouraging their teen to put forth some effort, but what ends up taking place is they lose sight of achievement and instead feel that failure isn’t worth the risk.
2. Failure to achieve brings about parental disappointment.
Parents, this one is on you. You may be so caught up in your child’s future and success that when they fail to achieve that perfect grade or get the gold in their particular activity, you flip your lid. Your guilt, anger, disappointment, and anxiety does nothing but break down your child and tie their self-worth directly with their ability to achieve, rather than the person they are.
Failure to recognize your child as a soul with thoughts, feelings, talents, and failures—ya know, a human—creates complexes and emotional issues that last a lifetime.
3. Failure to achieve unrealistic expectations can cause them to give up entirely.
When success seems so far out of reach, or if they’re achieving most of their goals but the focus has been on an “all or nothing” basis, they spiral into the false belief that they can’t do anything right so it’s not even worth trying.
In a related study, researchers have shown a proportional decline in academic performance based on the increasingly unrealistic expectations of their parents.
It’s important to encourage our children to pursue their dreams, but we have to be careful to also teach them effort and persistence will do them far greater good than simply dreaming.
Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative designs.
Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere.