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2. Next, consider your child's existing limitations. Some things you can change, but some are what I call "givens." They're part of the Russian roulette of the gene pool—that shyer, quiet disposition; the short, gawky physique. Sure, you can help your shyer, introverted kid feel more comfortable in a group, but chances are slim she'll become Miss Social Butterfly; you can help your tense and anxious child learn to relax, but chances are that he'll never turn into the laid-back kid you hoped for; you might have had dreams that your child would be in a choir—like you—but he's tone deaf; Harvard was your dream for your child, but considering that your happy kid is struggling with learning disabilities, despite all the tutors in the world, an Ivy League scholarship is highly unlikely. Jot down any revelations you may have just realized. Doing so will help you keep your expectations for your child more realistic.
3. What are the hot-button issues you're having trouble accepting in your child? Be brutally honest: we all have some. Put as asterisk by those areas you recognize are ones you can't change in your kid—they're your problems. Recognize that your child's strengths or weaknesses may lie in areas that don't reflect your personal preferences, upbringing, or personality. This may take some real honesty, so take a pledge to look deep within yourself. These areas may be ones that cause friction between your and your child.
4. Now dig deeper and uncover the "why." Next, reread your notes and review your checkmarks. This may take some real soul searching, but the key is that you can't change unless you know what's at the base of your belief. What's driving the attitude that is causing you to be less than accepting of your child? Take an inventory of your needs, perceptions, and expectations. Here are a few things that can stand in a mom's way of fully accepting her child. Check ones that may be your "hooks"—ones that are pulling you away from being satisfied with who your child really is:
□ An Achilles heel. Did you have particular limitations or weaknesses as a kid?
□ Unfulfilled or squashed dreams. Had you always fantasized that your daughter would become a star gymnast?
□ Past traumas. Did your mother always stress grace, but you ended up with a gawky kid?
□ Unmet needs for approval, recognition, or perfection. You're hoping to bask in your children's glory.
□ Old feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. Perhaps you had these problems when you were growing up (you weren't popular, or people called you funny names), and you don't want the same thing to happen to your child.
□ Desire for social status. You fear that a less than perfect kid will diminish your status with other moms.
□ Guilt. Your child's shortcomings and limitations mean you're less than perfect as a mom.
□ Fallen expectations. You expected your kid to go to an Ivy League school. Now your child is receiving less than perfect grades and scores.
5. How are your views affecting your child? This one is going to be tough, but the answer may well give you the "ah-ha" moment that shakes you up and pushes you to change. Look at your final list of strengths and weaknesses. Make this profound—write from child's view—"I wish my mom . . ." What's going to help you be satisfied with who your child really is? Good enough just as he is, thank you? A child's feeling of self-worth starts with her knowing that she is fully accepted for all that she is. What are the one or two things you recognize need changing in yourself right now so you accept your child for his strengths as well as his limitations?
6. What will you need to do to start the change process so you are satisfied with your child for who she really is? Write down exactly what you plan to do to start accepting your whole child for the unique person he or she is. The next section will show you how to use this ninth essential secret with your family.
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