â€œI donâ€™t care if he has to collect trash to make a living, as long as heâ€™s happy and healthy.â€
My wife gave this matter-of-fact response this Saturday after our son was born when I asked her what her hope was for him.
Many ambitious parents and grand parents will read this and consider it laughable.
â€œMy son or daughter? Oh, no. I wouldnâ€™t dream of it.â€
But all the time we see parents, our own or others, pushing children to be something they arenâ€™t or urging them to achieve beyond their capacity.
I often joke (but itâ€™s true) that I was educated beyond my intelligence.
Getting the best education was the great hope in my household growing up. All parents make mistakes; mine made this one.
Other parents rest their hopes in similar things:
â€œOh, my daughter has to take ballet. My mother was a member of the New York Ballet, and thatâ€™s just the way itâ€™s going to be for her.â€
Or, â€œmy sonâ€™s going to play for the Bulls. Heâ€™s going to be the next Michael Jordan or else.â€
Or, â€œmy daughterâ€™s not going to want for anything; sheâ€™s going to head up her own company. I will see to it if itâ€™s the last thing I do.â€
We hear these statements or tell them to ourselves all the time. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with parental ambition, but what happens when our child accomplishes a temporary ambition and it vanishes?
Are we saying that, when it does, our child no longer has intrinsic value or that their value in some way diminishes?
Again and again, we hear of professional athletes or executive who lose all perspective when they have to give up their position or place.
In light of this reality, can we argue that there is such a thing as false hope, too?