To live vicariously through your child often means to push your own ambitions onto your offspring in order to gain a feeling of success or achievement. More than anything, most parents desire for their children to have wonderful lives. For many parents, this means reassuring that their kids do not make the same mistakes as they did. Many parents also feel pressure to give their families certain advantages or to conform to an unrealistic ideal of parenthood. Most parents do not intend to harm their children and truly believe they are doing what is in a child’s best interests. It’s important to look beyond your motives and consider the role your emotions and experiences might play in your parenting decisions.
Some signs that you might be living vicariously through your child include:
- Becoming obsessively involved in your child’s activities, at the expense of your own well-being or hobbies. This behavior is sometimes called helicopter parenting.
- Forcing children to do things they don’t want to do that are either unnecessary or offer no additional benefits. For example, all children must eat their vegetables and go to school, but there is no reason a child needs to do a specific activity, such as football or art camp.
- Making decisions about your child’s life because of your own disappointments. For example, a parent might be living vicariously if they refuse to let a child quit basketball because the parent regrets quitting basketball.
- Seeing your child’s behavior and activities as a reflection of your own worth.
- Ignoring your child’s needs or interests. For instance, a parent might push their child to take art classes when that child really wants to play baseball.
- Punishing a child for poor performance at extracurricular activities.
- Experiencing intense emotions related to your child’s athletic or academic performance.
- Telling your child how to think and feel about certain hobbies or goals. For instance, if a child insists that they hate baseball, a parent might angrily tell the child not to feel that way.
Children are separate entities from their parents. They often develop different goals, interests, and dreams than that of those who raised them. Pushing a child into a predetermined role can extinguish their individuality and unique gifts. In a healthy parent-child relationship, love and acceptance flow both ways.
For more information regarding this subject, or any other mental health issue, we are here for you! Please do not hesitate to reach out to Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832.421.8714. We are all in this together!