Mini Me – the Obsession of Parents Living Through Their Children
This is an unfortunate plague we have seen over generations and is no less today. Parents are obsessed with making their children a miniature version of themselves.
Many daughters have grown up in the shadows of their mothers – often to their detriment – where everything you are is either attributed to, compared to and expected to be like your mother. To all daughters out there – you are not your mother. Respect and love for a parent is different to blind adulation and mimicry to please. One stems from understanding, the other from insecurity and dependency.
“My, you are as pretty as your mother. But you don’t have her colour no?”
“I have my mother’s looks – she also has high cheekbones and big eyes”
“You must become a doctor and follow in my footsteps”
Many are the girls growing up today who have heard these or similar comments. Many mothers who have been celebrated for their looks and talents expect their daughters to be the same or better. It’s almost like the unrealised dreams of the mother have to be realised through the daughter. This is a disaster. Many girls grow up to be insecure women carrying the burden of their mother’s expectations well into their own lives.
Similarly, many young boys grow up with the expectations of their fathers resting on their shoulders. Because traditionally men are expected to “carry” the family name, they literally carry this millstone to their graves. It is seen as a duty and many follow out of fear and guilt.
“He is so handsome, just like the father”
“I have to maintain the family name. My family is banking on it”
“You must become the captain of the cricket team, like your father”
Woe betide a boy if he is homosexual because this would be seen as immediately emasculating the father and the ‘family name’ and reputation and a load of other drivel. Many young boys are pressured to please their fathers and because men hardly address their emotional needs and issues, these things fester for years and can lead to even mental breakdown for the sons – which would again be seen as a weakness. To the sons out there – you are not your father. And it is not your obligation to follow in his footsteps.
The constant comparison of children to their parents leads to severe insecurity and issues of self doubt for many children. Your children are not your clones. You need to remember that they are their own person – in every aspect. Looks, intelligence, physical capabilities etc. There is no greater damage you can do to your child’s self confidence than to constantly pit them against you and remind them of their inadequacies or to praise them only on their physical appearances. If you have unfulfilled dreams, achieve them even now. It’s fine. Plenty of people started ventures in their late 60s and became successful. Don’t ruin your children with your unfulfilled dreams and ambitions. Please.
Those of you who spend your time making comparisons and such comments mentioned above, please find something to entertain yourself with instead of ruining the self confidence of a child. A child’s upbringing colours every aspect of their life as adults, don’t taint it with your loose canon of a mouth and your inability to see beyond what a child’s parents are.
We need greater awareness of not creating Mini Mes and parents’ wannabes. We need children to be encouraged and nurtured to be the best version of themselves regardless of parental wishes, prejudices and ambitions.