My child is nothing like me!

publication date: Apr 24, 2007
You may have stared down into your new-born baby’s face and seen the image of yourself or partner reflected in those unformed features, but no baby is a perfect replica and as she turns into a toddler then pre-schooler you may notice that personality-wise she’s nothing like you. You may be rather shy while she is naturally gregarious. Suddenly you realise that you don’t really know your child very well and question how you should act in the future.

Being different isn’t a drawback
If you do find yourself left wondering about how best to help your child, you should take heart from the fact that being different from your child isn’t necessarily a drawback. It can be that people are more thoughtful in parenting a child that is different. With a child who is just like you,  you may assume you know what is best for him.

However there is a danger that anything that doesn't fit your idea, doesn’t actually get seen.  For instance a sporty child’s clumsiness may be overlooked while another child who is clumsy is made aware of this all the time. Parents also need to allow for children to be different. So if your child is different, acknowledging the fact is a good step forward.

Research shows that children thrive when parents have expectations for them. However expecting too much can be damaging. There may be a gap between what a parent believes a child is capable of and what he actually achieves. The knack is to find the middle ground by having expectations but being sensitive to your child as an individual. Look at the ways in which your child is different and encourage him in his pursuits.
A major pitfall for parents is when a child shows an aptitude for something about which you know very little. For example you may discover your child is good at playing an instrument - something you’ve never done. As a non-musician you may overestimate his talents and perhaps push him too hard so that what was once enjoyable for him becomes a trial.

It could be however that a child who you thought was so different from you, has in fact many similarities. For example he may be interested in science and maths which leave you cold but he applies himself to the subjects similarly to the way you apply yourself to work or tasks. You may be an avid reader and despair of a child who never seems to sit still long enough to open a book but find that you have the same sense of humour.
One of the joys of parenting is discovering just how different each child can be and celebrating the fact. Life in families would be very boring  if we were all the same - and no one was brought by the fairies!