Embracing Our Children’s Independence

Whether they are introverted, extroverted, funny, or serious, parents should love their children unconditionally. But given the chance, would you change your child's personality?

With Fourth of July just around the corner, I couldn’t resist writing about a topic near and dear to my heart—Avery, my 3-year-old daughter. My princess!

In retrospect, her middle name should have been “Ms. Independence.” From the time she was born, there was something my wife Kelly and I could sense that was different from our son Ensen. Over the years it became more evident. She didn’t particularly care for our help and insisted on doing everything herself.

We thought this was perhaps to show her older brother that she was just as capable as he was in opening or fixing things, dressing herself, brushing her teeth, or cleaning up the bathroom. Whatever it was, it was adorable to see our baby girl taking the initiative to get things done throughout her 2s and now into her 3s.

However, the truth behind her dominant personality may be linked to her zodiac sign, something my wife was reminded of the other day. She’s an Aries.

Kelly emailed me Avery’s horoscope, with the subject line, “Holy C%&$.” Here’s what it said:

Aries children are very enthusiastic and not afraid to take risks. You can never find a dull moment with these feisty youngsters. They never sit still or stop moving. Emotions are on the surface with a full range of emotions from rage to ecstasy. To help your child with these strong emotions, always provide them with a physical outlet. Any competitive sport is ideal for them. Any sport that keeps these guys moving.

I have never been one to really follow my horoscope, but I could not help thinking, “Whoa! So far, this is spot on.” I had to continue reading.

If these children are not watched, they will be the ones climbing the tallest tree or leaping off the roof. Involved in anything risky. Very stubborn and always taking on new challenges of the next higher mountain. Fearless in everything they do. Always starting something new. Getting them to finish what they start is another thing. They quickly lose interest in everything, from eating to building a model. As the parent, you will have to prod them to complete everything.

After reading this part, I contemplated an early retirement so I could watch Avery 24/7. Another option would be to save up for a personal security guard to monitor her activities. I’m kidding of course. I think. The horoscope finished by stating this:

Natural born leaders, these children are often the class president, or the bigwig in any group. Learning to share and learning to lose will be difficult lessons for these children. Aries children can manifest the negative aspects of this sign, displaying hyperactivity and in extreme cases, violence. Moving too quickly, these children can be accident-prone and easily hurt their heads. Too much selfishness can lead to difficulties with siblings and playmates. If you teach anything to an Aries, let it be patience.

The part about being natural born leaders did calm me, but not the part about easily hurting their heads. It’s natural for any parent to want their kids to socialize, play, and eventually work with others in a productive and respectful manner, as much as it is not to want to see our children get hurt. Interestingly, teaching patience to our little Aries works both ways. Avery teaches us this lesson every day.

I came across an interesting article that posed this question: “Can you change your child’s personality?” It looked at things, such as whether it was possible to change an introverted child to an extroverted one. Whether you can reshape extremities of character. Then I thought to myself, would I really want to do that to Avery or Ensen? Shouldn’t we as parents love them for who they are, regardless?

My answer: Absolutely!

As I say this, I know that I (and other parents) will still subconsciously attempt to reshape our children’s personality through the way we encourage or discourage our kids to do things.

One thing is for certain, parenting is hard and nobody is perfect. The next time Avery insists on doing it on her own, even though I know it will take four times as long to complete, I’m going to do my best to embrace her “Ms. Independent” side. Easier said than done, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Happy Independence Day to you and your ‘ohana!

Nathan Kam is a Honolulu public relations executive, husband and a proud daddy of two incredible kids, Ensen (6) and Avery (3). He enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling, blogging and golfing. You can reach him via emailTwitterFacebookLinkedIn or via his personal Kam Family Blog.