No matter how much of a chill, laid-back parent you think you'll be before you have kids, the truth is that having kids often uncovers some pretty deep-seated fears and anxieties in pretty much everyone. And for good reason: we love our kids, and we want them to be happy, yet most of us are painfully aware that we can't (and shouldn't) shield them from struggling. At a premiere for the Apple Music short film, On the Record: Pink — Beautiful Trauma, Wednesday, Pink said her biggest parenting fear is her kids' self-esteem, and it's the kind of honest reveal that makes the singer seem so refreshingly down to earth. But it's also totally relatable, particularly for any parent who also grew up feeling like an insecure outsider (and really, who hasn't felt that way at some point?).
Pink became a mom for the second time late last year, after giving birth to her son, Jameson, who is now 9 months old. But with her first-born, 6-year-old daughter Willow, long out of the baby stage, it's clear that the singer has put a lot of time into thinking about how to best support her little girl as she begins to navigate the inevitable obstacles involved with growing up.
Pink told Us Weekly that it's been her own struggles as a child — and as a person in general — that have influenced her biggest fears as a mom. She explained,
Because of what I went through being a girl and being a kid and being a little bit different from everyone else, my biggest fear is self-esteem for my kids. Because I didn’t have any and I treated myself really badly. I didn’t expect other people to treat me with respect and I didn’t demand it and I didn’t have boundaries and I gave my power away over and over and over. That was something I had to learn in my life, was how to have boundaries and how to love myself, and what to love myself for and how to demand respect ... just all these life lessons.
Self-esteem struggles aren't exactly a rarity, and they can definitely feel totally crippling — especially as a young person. Yet even if you're able to hang in there and figure it out by the time you reach adulthood, in some ways, being a parent forces you to re-live those days all over again (only this time, it's your child heading out into the sometimes-cruel world, which, let's be honest, is about a million times worse).
Pink admitted that she often wishes she could shield Willow from having to go through the same challenges she faced, and told Us Weekly, “I see my 6-year-old and I’m like, ‘I just want to give you the sh*t that I already know.” But, no matter how much she may want to protect her daughter, she also understands that that's not exactly how it works. Pink said,
You can’t borrow somebody else’s knowledge, you have to buy your own. I know that too. It sucks when you’re a mom. I don’t want my kids to buy their own knowledge, I just want them to swallow mine.
Like pretty much any parent of a school-aged or older child will probably tell you, that realization can be one of the hardest aspects of having kids. After all, when they're babies, it's relatively easy to love and protect them, and give them everything they need to feel secure. Eventually though, you have to let them start experiencing the world — even the parts you wish you could keep hidden.
The bad news is that, as Pink explained, that can feel totally excruciating. But the good news, at least, is that as much as it might hurt to see your kid get pushed around a little by life, allowing that process to happen is actually what's going to make them stronger. And actually, the less we intervene, the better: as educational consultant Dan Riseman explained in a blog post for Psychology Today,
To make it in the real world, [children] need the internal skills to find their way. Self-reliance is a great, if not essential asset. Autonomy is crucial for success in both work and love. A hands-off milieu is a great way to foster such independence.
In other words, protecting our children from the world might feel like the right thing to do, but Pink's totally got it right: kids need to figure it out for themselves. And even though that's completely misery-inducing a lot of the time (is there anything worse than hearing that your child sat alone at lunch, or that they didn't have anyone to play with at recess?), letting them find their own way sounds like the best way to teach them how to be resilient, confident humans.
As much as parenting gets easier in lots of ways once your kid is no longer in diapers or waking up to breastfeed a million times a night, in some ways it also gets much harder. Pink might be a celebrity, and there might be a lot about her life that is totally unrelatable, but her parenting fear is definitely a common one. For all the other parents out there though grappling with the same kinds of anxieties about watching their kids grow up, it's at least helpful to be reminded that we are far from being the only ones who have these worries. And that, ultimately, it will probably all work out just fine in the end.
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