We all dream and wonder about who our children will become one day. Whether it’s your own children or the children you teach or take care of, we are all secretly wondering who they will become one day and what they will do to change the world.
As they shoot their first basket or complete their first finger painting, we can’t help but fantasize that the interests they show now could be hidden talents waiting to manifest into the next LeBron or Michelangelo.
When they create a contraption with cardboard and various kitchen utensils, we can’t help but to think that this is a sign they’re the next great inventor and a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank is only 15 years out. I mean, “have you ever seen such a talented, creative, athletic, or artistic child?” we say to our partner. The fantasy of their greatness and our secret wishes for them, make us beam with pride.
When in reality, they’re scribbling with a crayon and picking their nose within the same ten-second period.
The point is, regardless of how much “talent” our kids show, we can’t help but wonder about all the greatness they are going to achieve.
Well, I have a guide to show you exactly who your children will be and what they will be doing for a career in less than five minutes. Sound too good to be true?
It’s actually quite simple because as humans we are creatures of habits, and by habits, I mean we follow extremely predictable patterns that have been reinforced over and over again.
How it Works: Nurturer vs Performer
As scary or comforting as it is, who our children are right now is the strongest indicator of who they will become.
Let me break it down. And brace yourself, as you may not like the qualities you had been adoring in your child quite so much by the end of this.
Right now, whether our children are two years old or eight years old they are learning exactly who and how they need to act to receive our attention and praise.
Throughout the day, our children are constantly looking for ways to get the stamp of approval from us. And while the thought that our children are striving to impress us is cute and boosts our own ego, it’s actually extremely dangerous because of the unchecked power it gives us over their self-worth and self-esteem.
I’m going to walk you through a few examples of the roles are children take on to get our attention. One of these being the Nurturer, the other being the Performer.
This child is our empath. He or she may be very intuitive to the needs of others. They may be able to read a room or situation very naturally and know exactly what mood mommy or daddy are in and how to proceed forward so as not to upset anyone. This child usually gets the label of being very sweet or caring. They are most likely the one in class that listens to the teacher’s directions, helps other classmates first, and volunteers to show the new kid around school.
Maybe this sounds like one of the children in your family or in your classroom. You’ll know because you most likely refer to them as your “good” kid.
Future Careers for Nurturer
These children go on the path to become the therapists, nurses, teachers, healers, health care providers, social workers, nannies and care givers of the world. They will live to help others and provide an improved quality of life for their clients and the people in their lives.
Now, while none of these jobs are an issue in themselves, as we obviously need these jobs in society, the real danger lies in the motive behind pursing them.
The real reason our child is a nurturer, helper, and on the path to becoming a care provider, is not just because they are inherently good or kinder than others, it is because they have learned that being this way earns the most love and acceptance from us.
So, when they are extra kind and giving, they have observed that they will receive a gold sticker, a huge approving smile, or an extra hug and kiss from us. We may even give them verbal praise like “You’re such a good boy! You’re so kind! You’re so thoughtful!”.
Now you’re probably saying, “umm Sarah, this all sounds like a good thing”. Ahh but that’s the allure to traditional parenting. It looks so good on the outside. After all, it’s convenient, user-friendly, and it produces functioning adults. Right?
Well, not quite.
Dangers of Being a Nurturer
By giving praise to our children when they are fulfilling the role of nurturer, we are training and conditioning them that their worth and value to us and others is dependent on how much they serve others.
This may lead them to do things they don’t want to do, help others during situations where they don’t feel comfortable, hide their emotions to spare us from getting upset, and follow directions from adults just to receive approval.
Can you think of a situation where you may not want your child to follow an adult’s directions? One where it may not actually be safe to make other people ‘happy’? It’s hard because we don’t want to go down the roads of possible abuse or manipulation, but we need to. We need to ask ourselves hard questions because their will be times when our children may be around people who do not always mean them well.
Later in life, the nurturer conditioning leads to someone who believes their role in society is to take care of others. This translates to adults who hide their true feelings, put’s others needs before their own, have nonexistent boundaries, and believe that others are more important than they are.
These adults usually only feel like they are being a good or worthy person if they are serving or helping others. This leads to martyrs, victims, and Mother Teresa traps. These adults are typically submissive as they were as children and will not use their voices against others. This sets them up to become victims, to be taken advantage of, and abused or manipulated by others. After all, they have gone through life doing what makes others happy and feeling like they need to serve others in this way to be a good person. They have been rewarded and praised for saying yes and being kind.
On another side of the coin, we have the children that are performers. These are our kids who are geared towards achievement. They may put in the most effort to get the best grades, be the best athlete, or be the most well behaved. These kids love to excel and be successful. They have learned that we are the most proud and happy when they bring home a test with a grade of an A or hit a homerun at their baseball game. They strive to get the most gold stars and praise possible for their performance.
Success and worthiness to these children is quantifiable. As we have taught them that success is indeed quite measurable and is found through what they can accomplish, especially when it compares to others. This child can be spotted quickly as we will see them look back at us as soon as they do something that they think will impress us. They will want to see our smile when they make the basket or bring home their report card.
Again, this may not sound too bad right? An all-star athlete or boy genius doesn’t sound like a problem. I mean who doesn’t want a child that’s successful?
Future Careers for Performers
These children will go on to be businessmen and women, athletes, doctors, lawyers and other high level and achievement-oriented jobs where success is translated to promotions and salary, and qualifications are higher education or immense talent and training in a particular skill. These children will want to have careers where they can excel and continue to receive recognition for performance. These jobs will be ones where they can continue to climb the ladder of success as they will grow bored once they have achieved their original goals. Performers grow up to be consumed by their jobs and are the least likely to take time off.
Dangers of Being a Performer
What’s the concern this time?
When our children learn that their worth is quantifiable, they will forever be trying to fill the void through their drive to be successful. The problem, however, is that failure, in one form or another, is inevitable. And success is subjective. They may get the salary they want, or the car they dreamed of, but the reason behind it will be because they were trying to show others that they’re good enough.
Performers constantly want to show through achievement that they are worthy. They will be driven to a fault and never find the finish line of achievement. They will dedicate their lives to the illusion that there is place they can arrive at that will be enough. They will miss out on many of life’s joys for the constant drive to be perfect. They will turn down opportunities with friends and family if they are deemed to not be worth their time. Performers typically spend less time with their children and therefor are less connected and involved in their lives. These adults become prone to chronic stress, fatigue, illness, and burn out. They will never feel like they have reached the finish line. And this is because we tricked them into thinking one exists.
Now these are only two types of child to adult predictions, but the process can be applied to any behavior. If you look back at your own childhood, you’re probably seeing parallels to how you were then and what you do now.
There is nothing wrong with being someone who enjoys being a nurturer or performer, the problem lies in the motivations. Because the truth is, our children’s good behaviors are all motivated by their desire for our love and approval, not because of their own authentic desires.
Our children should organically help others or try their best on a test because they want to, not because they feel like that’s what they need to do to receive our love.
The best thing we can do for our kids to help them become functioning adults, is to unconditionally accept who they are, without the desire to mold them into who we think they need to be.
Accepting our kids as they are doesn’t need to be complicated, it can simply look like reminding them that their low-test grade doesn’t indicate how smart or worthy they are and it definitely doesn’t factor how much we love them. After all, they are so much more than a test, they are a unique being with their own spirit and life purpose that can’t be measured in a test, let alone a fourth-grade spelling quiz.
I would love to hear in the chat below if you have children in your life that are nurturers or performers and how they behave for your praise!
Book a free discovery call with me to see if you’re unconsciously conditioning your kids for a future career!