Are you a dream killer? Do you ever say things like this to your children? No, that won’t work, let me show you the right way to do it. Okay, you can try out for the team, but be prepared not to make it; I hear the competition is really tough. Or, how about this one… It’s really hard to make a living as a writer, you’d better think about a different major.
Okay, I’ve said one or two of those before, and it doesn’t make me a bad mom. In fact, when I’ve said things like that, I was just trying to be realistic and prepare my children in case things didn’t work out. But there’s a very fine line between being practical and dream killing.
We want our children to live boldly, right? Because, hey, like the old saying goes; Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. It is possible to help our children aim high while keeping their feet on the ground. So encourage them practically, and look over these 5 signs you’re a dream killer.
1. You’re a that won’t work mom.
As soon as your child comes up with an idea, a goal, or a plan, you immediately start pointing out all of the ways it won’t work. Instead of going straight to what won’t work, focus on what is good about their dream. When you want to move on to the weak points of their plan, ask them questions to help them see the possible flaws themselves. (You don’t want them to think of you as being a discourager.)
You could say, “How will you get from Point A to Point B?” Or, “How much extra time will you have to stay after school to be in that club?”
2. You’re overly cautious.
Yes, we want our children to be safe and to think through the risks involved with their actions, but if you immediately launch into Do you know how many people a year die learning to surf?-type speeches, your children might turn into fearful adults.
3. You take over.
So your son or daughter want to try a new sport. You’re on it! You pull up YouTube videos on how to excel. You put them on a practice schedule. You push them into a level of competition they’re not ready for. Boom! Their dream is dead because they feel overwhelmed and all of the fun has been sucked right out of it and you’ve turned into a stage mom.
4. You protect from pain.
I was very protective of my little sister when we were growing up. If she wanted to try out for something at school and I was afraid she wouldn’t make it, I would discourage her from trying out because I didn’t want her to be disappointed. Thankfully, she ignored my mother hen tendencies and survived just fine. As mothers, we don’t want our children to endure the pain of failure, but we need to let them try. They can learn valuable lessons and gain strength from just putting themselves out there.
5. You don’t offer options.
Beverly Cleary, the author of Ramona the Pest, had a mom who wasn’t a dream killer. When Beverly told her mom she wanted to be a writer, her mother could’ve defaulted to That won’t work mom mode and told her all of the roadblocks to becoming an author. Instead, she mixed in practicality with encouragement. “You can be a writer,” she told Beverly, “but you need to get a degree first, in something that will get you a job.” Beverly got her degree in Library Sciences and worked as a librarian while she wrote at night. She became a successful author, in part because of her mother’s guidance.
How do you avoid being a dream killer?