How do you help children choose their own path?

Son (19): “How do you get a child to choose his own path and not his parents’? Studies, work, hobbies and sports: parents have a big influence on what children do. I even sometimes wonder to what extent I let myself be controlled by what my parents think is of value. How can you raise children in such a way that they really choose what they think is fun and important, and not what their parents find fun and important? ”

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To practice

Stijn Sieckelinck: “Parents, of course, give moral values ​​to their children, and expectations are attached to them. They consider it important for themselves and also for their children. A child’s preferences can therefore never arise in a vacuum, but are based on the foundation that was laid in childhood.

“Parents can practice making choices with children from an early age, which creates self-confidence. It also helps teens try to decide something for themselves, not to cut it off with a ‘no’, but to discuss it together. Moreover, parents can do not much more than look closely at their children and through conversations find out how their interest develops. Some reflections on their own values ​​are recommended.

“That we build on what we have received here at home does not have to be at the expense of our autonomy. Later in life we ​​can not withdraw from everything and everyone and still make independent choices. ”

“What young adults like is still evolving. Even though they go out into the world with expectations of the home, they gradually involve all sorts of other influences. There seem to be many more nuances of philosophy, lifestyle and political preference than they are. accustomed to.The expansion of the world also expands their preferences.

“There are many paths to a fulfilled life. Parents can help students reflect on the path chosen without judgment, but with genuine involvement. ”

Give perspective

Jelle Jolles: “How can parents help children make their own way to ‘the world of tomorrow’? Contrary to popular belief, it is not about letting growing teenagers decide everything for themselves. Children up to the age of 25 need adult guidance in to make choices because they lack experience and perspective.

“What you consider important as a young person is a snapshot – it can be different in two weeks and different again in two years. Your preferences are determined by past living and learning experiences. If there are options that you do not know, then how can you really know what you like and what is important? Just because you like to play when you’re 17 does not mean you still want to enjoy it when you’re 24 or 41. Therefore, what is ‘fun and important’ can remain changeable, and it is therefore makes sense if the student can make use of the life perspective of parents or other adults.

“Parents are asked to be patient with clumsy steps towards independence, which is part of it. And they need to be aware of their new role. Ideally, parental behavior becomes more advisory than guiding when a child detaches from home. It is advisable to clarify this changed attitude towards your young adult children: Tell them that you can see that they are making choices for the future. That you can provide input that can help and that you are happy to give feedback. And feel free to ask: ‘How do you see my role in this? What do you expect from me? “

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