Kids that morph, alter who they are in their relationships to be accepted. One simple example would be a young man or lady who alters what she likes, does or thinks to be accepted by the person they are dating. As I coach families I am finding many parents who look back and say, “I morphed,” some with painful outcomes.
When we change ourselves to enter relationships it sets the relationship up to fail because eventually we will move back towards whom we truly are and what we like because it is consistent with how we are wired. When this occurs, the person the significant other fell in love with gradually disappears leaving the real relationship on shaky ground. If both parties are morphing to make a relationship work, they may wake up one day and feel like they do not really know the person they are with.
This is why it is critical to raise kids who know who they are, what they are passionate about and what they believe. They need to be confident enough in themselves to present who they are so they move towards a career that fits and a person who will love them for who they really are. While it is natural to be our best in the beginning of a relationship morphing and not showing someone who we really are for fear of rejection sets us up to be rejected in the end.
As I coach adolescents around the country I have identified three things that contribute to their morphing.
- Operating in an expectation driven paradigm
As I get the lists of expectations from kids age 8 to 18, I find many that are full of things that require them to bend to what parents want, desire, or need. They adopt a mindset of meeting others’ expectations, which may but does not always lead to morphing. Far too many kids feel like they are constantly falling short of their parents’ expectations. They believe they are failing or are not good enough given the effort they have made in the past. When this occurs some give up trying.
We are far better served by helping our kids understand themselves and their gifts talents and passions. We must help them establish their own goals. They need to be able to make internally motivated decisions rather than work to fulfill external expectations that frustrate them and often trigger the oppositional nature of their adolescent brain which unintentionally leads them in the opposite direction we desire.
- Kids’ buying into Performance Based Love
While it is never a parent’s desire or objective to have their kids feel they are only loved when they perform, many kids today end up feeling and believing that to be true. This is driven by our traditional parenting paradigm and the way short-comings and failure are handled. When parents handle shortcomings in a way that leaves kids hurt, frustrated or doubting our unconditional love for them, they, over time, begin to believe (whether true or not) that they are loved only when they perform or are basically perfect in their parents’ eyes.
This sets them up to perform or morph to be loved rather than being confident in who they are and where they want to go. When parents and their kids truly come to hear and understand each other and kids set their own goals, parents can relax and kids start to make far better decisions. In this they are far less likely to morph for others. Our research indicates that this is a huge problem today given that a vast majority of kids lead dual lives that parents have little or no knowledge about.
- Negative core values
When our kids draw negative internal conclusions about themselves, they lose confidence and begin to morph in a futile effort to somehow find and get positive input. It is futile because positive feedback does not align with what they truly believe about themselves deep within, resulting in positive messages being minimized or dismissed. This contributes significantly to kids who choose to live in the artificial world of gaming and social media where they feel successful and can put on a positive front. Dealing with core values is a much longer discussion and is covered in videos on our parent support community.
When kids have negative internal conclusions about themselves they fear presenting whom they really are and are virtually forced to morph for those around them. This can lead to poor decisions as they seek approval. From my interaction with thousands of kids, I have concluded that both of the factors above contribute to the development of negative core values.
The great news is that when we start guiding our kids to instill positive core values and guide them to get rid of the negative core values, they bloom. They want to be able to believe in themselves and have confidence that the right people will like them. So our kids will need us parents to believe in them, to encourage, to guide and come alongside them along the way.
It is vital in today’s youth culture that we come alongside our kids to help them understand themselves, their gifts, and abilities in order to help them both believe in themselves and that they are lovable for who they truly are.
Would you like to learn more on the subject of core values? Then we invite you to visit our website ReviveFamily.com, we believe in you and look forward to going through this journey through parenthood together.