Letting Our Kids Be Themselves

October 6, 2010 Theresa Fung

I was reading a tabloid very informative celebrity magazine in the bookstore the other day and was intrigued by an article about Angelina Jolie and her “rainbow family.” The article states that a “source close to the family” claims that Jolie has picked a personality for each of her kids and is dressing them accordingly. For example, her biological daughter Shiloh is the designated tomboy and has been photographed looking more and more like a little boy with her cropped hair and masculine clothes; conversely her adopted daughter Zahara is quite the little lady in her feminine dresses.

Molding Children into Parent's Image

KidsAtPlay - The Unlocked Life

While we all love to slam celebrities for every hiccup they make, the subject of molding our kids into something we, as parents, want is one that affects every family. How many of you have envisioned a highly successful career in [insert your field of interest here] for your little zygote while it’s still happily swimming around in the womb? I, myself, place great pride in creative pursuits and have already purchased art sets for my 13 month daughter who will likely not use them for years to come.

We all can present the point that we want what’s best for our kids - blah, blah, blah. But at what point does good earnest parenting end, and selfishness and close-mindedness kick in? I mean, if the article’s accusations are true that Jolie is, in fact, forcing Shiloh to dress in boy’s clothes against her will to fulfill a pre-conceived notion of hers, that’s just sick. But if Shiloh actually wants to dress that way, then I suppose that a good parent would allow her the freedom to be herself.

The point when over-zealous parenting becomes harmful is when we ignore our child’s natural talents (for example, math) in hopes of fostering talent in an area of our own personal interest (like, art). Of course, this is easier said than done.

Preventing Over-Zealous Parenting

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You child is unique (duh). Parents often think that their child will be a blend of mother and father, or turn out ‘just like Daddy.’ We sometimes forget that this little person is a character all on his own.
  • If we force our kids to choose interests or career paths against their natural talents and wishes, who is really benefitting? Your child may become resentful of you and be unhappy doing something just to please you.
  • Your child may be a decent artist, but be a brilliant engineer if given the chance and encouragement.

At the end of the day, most parents just want their children to be happy (that, and to grow up to be self-sustaining adults who will not be living in the basement when they are 35). But even 35 year olds still seek acceptance and approval from their parents…

APA Reference
Fung, T. (2010, October 6). Letting Our Kids Be Themselves, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Theresa Fung

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