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Sunday, 2 June 2019

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." The Kite Runner

Content warning - Suicide

We hear a lot of people say 'I just want them to be happy' but as the HSC approaches, we hear a very different tune from parents. Kids are currently pushed into University, into courses chosen at random that suits the parents ideas, not necessarily the student and this is why we currently see a drop out rate for Universities like never before.

There is an article floating around with the release of Too Soon Too Late with interviews on the loss of her child, Stuart Kelly. His mother, Kathy Kelly very generously shares a conversation that must have been difficult for her to admit in the public sphere. However it is a conversation I have heard plenty of friends repeat variations of, as they force their child to follow a path they aren't interested in. The full article is here (and note the content warning of suicide applies). Her son one day says he might do wood work and she replied  ‘oh, we didn’t struggle to send you through this school to have you turning timber.’ I am not judging her for this - I am infact admiring that she had the courage to share it in order to help others. I hear this all the time from parents, and if not specifically those words, the same idea built into the attitude of what their child should do with their HSC marks. She goes on to explain that she wouldn't care what he did, if only he was here. I don't think these words caused his decision to act, but as she later says “I just feel that I said all the wrong things, and we weren’t really listening to him." This is something we all do as parents and we don't really get to understand it without the benefit of hindsight. 

Perhaps we need to all listen a bit closer and remind ourselves that our children are not a reflection of us, nor is what matters to them always the same thing that matters to us. Maybe we let them try on their Plan A without pushing our idea of Plan B. Maybe we launch them into their plan so successfully it works, or if it doesn't, we help them find the steps for the new Plan A.

We chose to send them to an expensive school. They don't owe us a return on our investment any more than they do if we give them an expensive suit or dress for the formal.  If the child truly got a good education, they will have the ability to say politely, 'this is not what I want to do' and not waste their time or happiness trying to fulfill your ideal. If we are good parents, we don't get to decide what they become, we merely help them be who they want to be. It was a good lesson surmmarised in Avengers:Endgame "Everyone fails at who they're supposed to be...A measure of a how well they succeed at being who they are". If we really want them to be happy, we need to let them in the driving seat, and try not to be the distracting backseat driver. Perhaps we need to celebrate the person in front of us, regardless of the potential that awaits in them tomorrow. Celebrate that success if and when it comes.

We also can't decide what will make them happy. We can be there to pick up the pieces should they make a wrong choice and decide they have failed, but we can't assume that if they aren't making lots of money or they don't have prestige, they aren't more content than those who do. Our recipe for happiness might not work for them. They are our children but they aren't, and never will be, us.

"I refuse to accept other people's ideas of happiness for me. As if there's a 'one size fits all' standard for happiness". Kanye West

Linking with #KCACOLS  #MondayMusings and #ABloggingGoodTime

This is well worth watching - if you don't have the spare 22 minutes, jump to the 11 mins through to 14 - what if everything I've been told isn't true? And again jump to the 19 mins. All my life I'd been told if you do this next step then you'll be happy.

Please note if you or someone you love needs help, please seek immediately. 
LifeLine (Australia) 13 11 14 anytime (or text 0477 131114 between 6pm-10pm) and note there are resources on the website.

Black Dog 

Other counselling lines (24/7)  

Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling – 1800 011 046
And if your life is in danger call emergency services:
  • Emergency Australia – 000
  • Emergency New Zealand – 111
  • A&E UK - 999
You are not alone. There is always someone to listen and to help you keep safe. 


  1. This is everything - "we don't get to decide what they become, we merely help them be who they want to be." Now I am desperate to get my hands on The Kite Runner. Off to check out the Kathy Kelly interview now...

    1. I found it so devastating. I think they need to be admired for what they're doing post the unthinkable.

  2. I think it's one of the hardest things as a parent to do - to help them be who they want to be not who we think they should be. It's so incredibly true - they don't owe us a return on the investment we make in their schooling. Heartfelt post.

  3. A thought provoking post. I have The Kite Runner book on hold atm. #lifethisweek

  4. Thank you for starting this conversation, Lydia.

    SSG xxx

  5. I saw an interview with Kathy and her husband and thought they were very brave and honest. Your post is very interesting Lydia and thought provoking. I also loved the Kite Runner. #lifethisweek

  6. I read the Kelly story in the Good Weekend. I am learning (oh so hard) not only to not be involved in any decisions our kids or grandkids make. I can tell you that my father, at 95 is only just learning this so I am 'early'. We never said "we sent you to school to become this..." but we were disappointed (initially) when school did not match some of our kids or grandkids. It is a lesson essentially in what we can control. Only US. Thanks for the very thoughtful post. Thank you for joining in #lifethisweek. Next week's prompt is 23/51 My Best Birthday Cake. 10/6/19 Denyse.

    1. Another do as I say, not as I do. One of my kids wants to be a chef. I am very worried about this - not because of the TAFE/Trade thing (I am taking that as a pass not to have any HSC stress pushing him) but more because it seems a very difficult lifestyle for mental health. A friend who was a chef and just retrained after 25 years in the industry went off his nut and told me not to let him do it...however, I am hoping he can start and then move into something less stressful - maybe get his own tv show ;) But maybe that's his dream and it will be wonderful for him....

  7. It really is so important to listen. However we often fail to see the obvious right in front of us. Thanks for sharing this #KCACOLS

  8. In this I think we are doing OK, because we are very eager for our children to be who they want to be. But I remember growing up there were comments... and it's so easy to make them.
    So it's a very thoughtprovoking post! And I'll remember it if I find myself in a position where I might go wrong!

  9. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam
    It is hard to balance the desire to do what is best for them and setting them up for a great future with not pushing... My kids are little, but I hope I always managed to stay on the right side of that line

  10. Fantastic post. I think its easy to think that we know whats best for them but even if we are doing it with their best interests at heart, they need to figure out who they are on their own. Love it #KCACOLS

  11. This might sound bad but I don't want my children to be happy. I want them to be content and accept that life isn't perfect but to try their best anyway. Thanks for linking up with #stayclassymama

  12. Such an important post. Just another challenge of parenting and it's so hard to know if you're doing the right thing. Thank you for linking with #KCACOLS! x

  13. It's very true and something that I think about a lot in hindsight because my parents had a very specific idea of what I should be and I felt obliged to be that person. I was too young and not strong enough to try and follow my own path. But thankfully I am doing it now! Because I was smart at school they thought I should be going to the best university so that is what I did but all I really wanted to do was sports and be a fitness trainer. There was no way they were ever going to be happy with that. It is a regret that I live with but at least I can say that I have learned from it and will make sure to never have that attitude with my own daughters. They can be whoever they want to be as long as they are happy. #ablogginggoodtime

  14. That is so true. I learned this with my kids. Very nice. I wish more people would realize this. #ablogginggoodtime.

  15. Incredibly powerful post thank you so much for sharing. It's so vital that people realise children are independent beings with their own thoughts and wishes. Great writing on a difficult subject #KCACOLS

  16. I completely agree with you! I don't feel I have the right to decide what my kids do with their lives once they turn 18. I've stressed this detail to them a lot. I have told them that they need to give me some indications of what they want to do by their Junior year of high school so I know if I have to help them with taking college courses for dual credits, but otherwise, that's the extent of my interference.

  17. This is all so true. Maybe we have so many aspirations for our children that we forget to let them be who they actually are. Great post #KCACOLS