-- Thomas Merton
I believe on a core level kids love their parents and want to please them. They want to make their parents proud because that makes them feel good about themselves. I think that the desire to please can be a range in different children, but that it is there. Some children express their free will earlier on. It is crucial as parents to be open and really listen to whether your child is taking a path because they are trying to please you or because it is authentic for them.
It is a slippery slope. When children feel they have to mirror what their parents want for them to please them, they might get trapped in a life that is not their truth. They sacrifice happiness there and it can be very hard for them to break free of that, if they ever do.
On the other side, when we put conditions on our love and our children choose to be different from us anyway; they could grow up feeling like they were a disappointment to their parents, like they were never good enough. I don’t think that is really what any parent truly wants for their child.
It takes strength and deep love to let your children feel free and loved enough to be who they are, no matter how much that opposes parts of you. The younger you instil this freedom in your children the better for their self discovery. Giving children freedom doesn’t mean you are going to permit them run into the street full of cars, allow them never to eat vegetables, accept vulgar language or let their teeth rot, it means giving them freedom to be “perfectly themselves” and loving the authentic them not simply “the reflection of ourselves we find in them”.
“Children are born through us, not of us” –paraphrase from Oprah Winfrey