When I was 12, my family hosted a family from India for
supper and we had bread and butter (along with other food) and these people PUT
BUTTER ON THEIR BREAD. As in, my mom had to keep running back to the fridge for
butter refills because they smeared so much on the bread.  I was thinking, don’t they know that they are
one pat away from clogging their arteries entirely?

Years later we hosted a Russian family who kept belching at
the table, while my family refused to look each other in the eye in case we would
start snickering.

Then, when I was fourteen years old a Moldavian Pastor gave
me the gift of a watermelon.  I held the
watermelon and (being fourteen) thought He
gave me a melon, oh my word, this is the funniest thing ever,
and burst out
laughing. Keep in mind he was a pastor that had served a prison sentence for
having faith in Jesus.  I’m sure my
parents would have liked to disown me that day. Looking back I would like to disown myself.

And yes all these awkward experiences I would like to pass
along to my children.  The knowledge that
there are thousands of different people in the world, and they are just
that.  Not better or weirder, or cooler,
or wrong, just different.

The other day while I was sitting at my kitchen table
surrounded by friends, talking about schooling options, and why and where we
send our kids to school.  I mentioned
something about me and Gene both having a good experience in High School (not
together of course) and wanting that for our children.

After they left, remnants of the conversation stuck in head.  Why do I assume that anything that served me
well, will serve my child well?  I am
using an argument that I hate!  Why do I
want to duplicate every life-changing experience into the life of my child?
Every good thing, every shaping incident I had, I want to repackage for my
children.

One of my biggest goals and values has been for my children
to experience cross-cultural challenges.
The kind of differences that I feel impacted my life more than anything.  Meeting somebody that is so different than
you it’s like: WHOE…that is so different
is it even right
? kind of differences.

Well, we live in a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  We travel to Ohio every few months, to be
with my family. Sometimes in the winter we go to Florida.  The cross-cultural challenges of my dreams have
not been happening around here.

So let’s
hypothetically say that Elena wants to get married straight out of High
School.  That could be a bitter pill for
me to swallow. (My issue!)  I’ve idolized
experiences, and “getting out”, and education and travel.

I don’t know what action you could base yourself worth on, as a parent.  <–That
sentence is not pretty.  I’m obviously
unveiling an issue of mine.

However, in my “dream family” my kids are hunkered down in
Calcutta eating rice with their fingers, and hanging out in the leper
colony.

Oh, that’s not a lot of pressure to put on kids is it?

Right now my children pretty much run around the house
pretending they are Superman, and make hundreds of hand-colored cards every day.  On our 40 acres of farm land they choose to
run around the carpet inside the house.
I wonder how my dreams for them are going to intersect with their
reality.  I wonder if my dreams for them
are really just extensions of dreams for myself.

10 thoughts on “Projecting onto our Kids Part 2

  1. god_stories says:

    This is SO….OOO good!  You are so on the spiritual journey, its inspiring and amazing to read!  Or should I say you are so on a journey that I’ve found so encouraging  Your self analysis and meta-awareness (knowledge of awareness) is catchy.  Or maybe its who we are as humans and what Jesus encouraged us to know about ourselves.I loved your last post about awareness of your own and your husband’s desires for your family…and recognizing the role of your own upbringing.  There’s a truism I’ve heard as I’ve explored relationships and relational brokenness through lots of programs and books:  ‘we can’t live our dreams until we’ve fulfilled our parents dreams.’And its beautiful, truly adorable, hearing you honestly explore your world and relationship with your husband in raising your kids.  I’m imaging myself laughing as I read your upcoming post about the funny adventures your family experiences in building a book shelf strong enough to hold a HUGE fish tank and loads of books.

  2. Carsonsmom2 says:

    I love this. I grew up going to a certain campground every summer with my family. We made some of my favorite child hood memories there…and I want to do the same with my family now…BUT, my husband is not a camping fan and says he has a gazillion memories of growing up and none of them include camping.  And I suddenly realized, I want for my children, what worked for me.  But there is a whole world of options out there!  And we’ve actually gone camping several times, but I really don’t think they were our best times together. 🙂 Imagine that.  I need to think more of what else I’m doing to make my children ‘like me’.  When in reality, I want them to be like Jesus. What will make them more like Him? Good thoughts.

  3. lwstutz says:

    I just had a talk about this with a wise, older woman. I expressed my desire for my children to be missionaries in a foreign land….because I always wanted to do that and never got to. She reminded me that my greatest missionary ‘job’ is here at my house, inside these 4 walls. And she’s right. What my children turn out to do or be isn’t up to me, but if I miss my opportunity with them, well, I’ve missed it all.

  4. YES!  I talk about this and then turn around and struggle with it the very next day.  I do project on my kids too much.  Way too much.  Sometimes it’s hard to know how to separate goals and yourself trying to live out your life in your child’s life.  I get so upset at myself when I find myself disinterested, or worse, resenting some of Adam’s passions in life (hunting / camoflauge).  And somehow I think that my well-disguised dislike isn’t so well disguised.  We didn’t go camping or on family vacations when I was little.  But somehow I want my children to have that PLUS what we had (lots of educational excursions to places like Niagara Falls, Washington DC, aquariums, and tons more).  It doesn’t work for our family right now and I find myself feeling as though my children are being short-changed.  It’s ridiculous.  How do you set goals to work toward (I want them to be well-educated, thoughtful, passionate about serving Jesus, adventurous, readers, and more) without boxing them into a certain confine???????????  Have you figured out the secret to this mystery? Please say yes.

  5. lifeisadance says:

    Wow, this is so so good!! I think it’s so easy for us to want things for our children that we especially loved, or wanted and never had/got to do, and to avoid the things that we didn’t have a great experience with. I am a very goal-oriented person, which can be good, but has very definite negatives as well, and I’m seeing that I have projected on my husband things that I wanted when it really wasn’t for him. And I want to be aware of that with my children too, especially as they get older. Yeah, the getting married right out of high school would be a hard one for me too – I’m envisioning missionary-like endeavors around the globe! My kids are still so young, but I already want to parent them with an awareness of God’s work within THEM, and trust Him for His plan for them, whatever that may mean, and however different that may look than my ideas of it. GOOD post, Andrea!

  6. quiet_hearts says:

    Oh my. Yes!  Do I ever get this post and the one before it.  I love how you put these topics into concise words.  Dan & I were just talking the other day about how to get world awareness into our children when we live in such a small, ingrown community.  I feel as though I cannot BEAR to raise children who “merely” do what we’re doing. 🙂  I want missionary doctors and professors and linguists!!  And right now the only thing our (very intelligent) eldest can think of is farming and snowmobiling and the latest:  truck drivng.  And 2nd son is having a hard time finding his niche in life and would play computer games all day if we’d let him.   And yeah, the youngest choose to run around the house instead of out on the farm too.  (Of course it doesn’t help that it’s January.)I can get so tied up in knots about this stuff.  If only we can teach them to love and follow Jesus with their whole hearts….. whether He takes them to Calcutta or not.P.S.  I LOVE Henry Huggins.  Beverly Cleary is my favorite children’s author, I do believe.

  7. @god_stories – that truism, very interesting. It does seem that majority of our lives includes seeking aproval/blessing of our parents. I have to think about that some more.@smilesbymiles – The secret to the mystery? hahaha are you kidding me? See that’s just it, in the end there is a “product” I want (well-rounded, adventerous etc) the mystery to me is about letting go of that end product. I DON’T KNOW HOW.@lifeisadance – “missionary like endevours around the globe”  Yes. Totally.@quiet_hearts – A coupleof things here. Beverly Cleary? She blows me away. Seriously I’m reading Beezus and Ramona to the kids, and I look forward to it as much as them.  From an adult perspective, those books are still good.  And, ” doing merely” what we are doing.  Yeah feel that way too, and I’m not sure what to do about it. @Carsonsmom2 – When I clear all the clutter away, having my kids be like Jesus is my end goal. You are right, there are tons of options that it can happen in.

  8. I can struggle with this in a lot of different ways.For instance, one of my girls really doesn’t have many friends…..and the friends she does have aren’t close friends.  She actually seems ok with it.  It almost feels as though it’s more my own struggle. I’ve always had and enjoyed a lot of friends, and I worry that she’s just in denial about being kind of a loner. She rarely says anything about it, until her younger sister ,who has a lot of friends and gets invites pretty much every weekend, is going with a friend.  Then sometimes she’ll say things like, ‘I don’t know why God made me so different” or, “Brook spends time with friends all the time” and it hurts me.But then I try to remind myself that I’m maybe projecting onto her what my teen years were like, and assuming she wants to have a similar experience.This parenting thing is hard.  I just had no idea!

  9. LydiaJo says:

    Good good thoughts. It’s amazing the way that our kids lives are so different than our lives as children.  And the generation before as well. When I see parents that can’t let their kids go and serve God in the way they feel that they should.  Breaks my heart. It is so on my heart lately. I just never thought about it that what if God calls them to get married right out of high school.  Does that happen?  ha ha. That would be tough.

  10. This made me laugh out loud! You are so right. It’s hard not to project on them. I find that I want to keep them from experiencing some of the difficult things I went through as a child but when I get to the heart of it, some of those things made me who I am and able to deal with the world around me. Maybe my protecting them from that is actually hindering them in the long run. *ouch.

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