I have many unfulfilled goals – just like everyone else. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a rewarding life and I’ve gotten to do many things I would have never imagined. But there are also many things I’ve imagined that I’ve never done and probably never will. I still dream though. I have an active imagination.
But one big thing has changed recently. Before, when I’d imagine some awesome achievement and reward, I’d always picture myself. But now, sometimes I think of Sebastian instead.
That makes sense right? We’re finite. We’ll die someday. Some doors are already closed to us (just a few!) due to the choices we’ve already made.
But Sebastian – yes Sebastian – all doors are open to you. You’re born into the wealthiest and most dynamic country on Earth with a silver spoon in your mouth. You can do anything. I know you can’t even crawl yet, and you shit yourself multiple times a day, but you can do anything. I know it. Eventually.
We tend to see our children as extensions of ourselves. If we’re not careful, our unfulfilled ambitions can be a burden on them. We want to live vicariously through them, to play back history, but at a key moment, make them succeed where we stumbled. Even though that game is over. Even though people don’t even play that game anymore. Even though that moment’s long forgotten by everyone but ourselves.
And as a result, these burdened kids grow up with expectations, a plan, a formula. Some get depressed they can never live up to their parents wishes. Others rebel in various unproductive ways. And most finally grow out of their shackles and get to be their own person. But it is still a burden. Our dreams have become a burden.
How can I dream for Sebastian in a helpful way – without burdening him? I have no idea, but here are some possible things I can do:
His interests, not mine. The world will be vastly different in 20 years, and he’ll “get it” in some ways much better than me. I’ll need to respect that. He needs to choose his own fields to endeavor in. You can’t predict what will be important.
Introduce possibilities. To help him discover what he likes, I could show him a variety of places and things: zoos, aquariums, nature, labs, buildings, museums, books, the Internet, and historical bulls**t.
Provide resources, not orders. Within reason, provide him with all the resources I can afford for him to pursue his interests (assuming a reasonable rate of return). Don’t tell him what those interests are.
His fire, not mine. Obviously I do not want him to be on the couch smoking weed all day. Hopefully, if he can pursue his own interests, he won’t. But there’s no way I can order him to do things (beyond you-must-try-it-for-at-least-a-month I guess).
No outdated prejudices. You know how your moderately racist or homophobic parents or grandparents are kind of embarrassing and wrong? That’s going to be me about robosexuals and transracial people in 20 years. I can’t burden Sebastian with outdated thinking.
Any other suggestions?