Feb. 26, 2020

Where Did This Kid Come From? When Our Kids Are Nothing Like Us

Our kids can make us the craziest when their behavior is the most baffling to us. But unfamiliar doesn’t mean wrong. That our kid is different from us— even in ways we think might make their lives harder— is not necessarily something we need to fix.

There are times when we say "Where did this kid come from?!" and it's totally exciting, like: I'm kind of a shy person, and my kid can talk to anyone. I am completely uncoordinated, and my kid's on the all-state gymnastics team.

Then there are the times when perceiving our kids as nothing like us can make us apprehensive, as in: I am the most outgoing person in the world, and my kid won't even make eye contact. I loved being on the softball team, and my kid cries if she strikes out.

As parents, we can get a little stuck on figuring out how to close that gap, by clamping down on the things that feel unfamiliar, trying to change the ways our kids are differently wired so that their lives will be easier (as in, more like our own). But we risk missing the kid that's there in front of us while we try to parent the kid we thought we were going to have.

In this episode, we talk about how to be okay with that gap, rather than wishing it away, and how to support our kids' dreams even when they slightly baffle us.

We also discuss the excellent book Far From The Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, in which Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so.

We're going to be okay. So are they.

Here are links to other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode:

Associated Press: Non-athletic parents may have best advantage with sports-minded kids

Julia Ries for Family Education: My Kid is Nothing Like Me

Erin Zammett Ruddy for Real Simple: How to Parent a Kid Who's Nothing Like You

and for an opposite point of view, this episode of our own podcast: What To Do When They're Just Like You

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