I once saw a sign that said: “Don’t dance the dance that people expect you to dance, dance your own dance.”
The grammar might be poor, but the message is clear. This could not be more evident than during our summer holiday of December 2012.
The resort where we were spending our lazy days held a social event one evening, an informal dance for all the guests. This was the first time where my family could share the dance floor and get “chiggy with it”. We had so much fun. My son being an avid follower of most rap music was showing off the moonwalk, shuffle and various other unknown dancing styles. I am not sure he got them all 100% right, but I thought he was pretty good. (As most unbiased parents do) He was dancing his own dance. Then he stopped abruptly and left the dance floor, sat at our table, Blackberry in hand. We lost him.
I was really confused, but my wife had this expression of concern and pity. She obviously picked up on something which I did not. Being tuned in to your kids is a skill that mothers receive upon birth, whilst most fathers spend a lifetime to acquire it without much success.
When the song ended, she pulled me aside and showed me the two boys who were sitting on the side, pointing and giggling to the kids on the floor. I was immediately pissed off, wanting nothing more but to ring their little necks. These two (insert rude word here) didn’t have the guts to participate, but felt it their obligation to point and criticize those who did. Like most people in life.
Their pointing was like a canon, blowing my son’s confidence out of the water. What bothered me more, was the fact that my son actually cared. That became my mission: To teach my kids to not be limited or confined or even defined by the opinions or expectations of other people.
That is why peer pressure is so rampant today. People are to bothered with what other people think of them. (It does become important when most people think you’re an ass!) But even movies portray popularity as the ultimate goal for teenagers. The rest of the kids are shown as either geeks or goths. That can’t be a fair portrayal of school, can it?
The sad thing is that peer pressure is not only caused by the kids, some parents are actually adding to the mix. They create the expectation, setting standards for the children to achieve. As parents, our job should be to encourage our kids to aim for anything, teach them that nothing is impossible. Sent them into the flower bed of life and allow them to pick any bouquet that they want.
It is not our job to give them a journey guide on a path which we selected for them just because the destination is our definition of success.
We should redefine the word success as seeing our kids happy in whatever they choose to do, even if they want to become a tattoo artist. Gulp…
(OK, maybe some guidance in moderation is acceptable.)