There’s a trap I find myself falling into too often. It’s the trap of comparing my kids to other kids. Many of us spend far too much time comparing ourselves to others as we grow up and enter adulthood. Then if we become parents, the comparing gets even worse when it comes to our kids.
We have to stop viewing our children as products to be developed and promoted. We can’t keep putting all our energy into figuring out how to help our kids become the brightest and most talented.
Should we encourage learning in our kids? Of course.
Should we nurture a desire in our kids to strive for excellence in what they do? Absolutely.
Should we put their intellectual development and extracurricular success at the center of our parenting efforts? No way, man.
This is coming from someone, mind you, who strived for straight A’s her entire academic career. I was “the smart one.” A classmate told me in 8th grade that I should become a brain surgeon. (I’m sure his 8th grade self would be appalled that I became a social worker, then resigned from my job to raise my kids and be a life coach. Ha!). I was salutatorian of my high school class. I graduated college summa cum laude.
What did all that get me? It got me pretty pieces of paper with fancy words and accolades on them and a bunch of cords that are sitting in a box in my basement. Yes, I’m super grateful for the high school and college scholarships my good grades got me. And yes, my academic success set me up for graduate schooling and an internship that landed me a job upon graduation. Those all were very, very good things.
But you know what served me best in my years growing up? It was my dad, stressing the importance of gratitude and good manners and modeling them for our family. It was the mornings riding to school when Dad would pray with us. It was my mom’s presence and emotional support. It was my eagerness to help out my teachers whenever I had the opportunity. It was the service projects I did in school and through my service fraternity. Those are the things that set me up for true success.
When I find myself comparing my daughter to other kids, I remind myself of this. I remind myself that her ability to count to a certain number, recite her ABC’s, or poop on the potty by a certain age is not going to guarantee her success in life.
Here’s what will set our children up for success:
- A strong faith foundation
- Loving and present parents
- A servant’s heart that is eager to show kindness
- A spirit of selflessness and generosity
- The ability to relate to and get along well with others
- The desire to be a lifelong learner
- The ability to find the fun in any activity
- Strong, lasting friendships
- A spirit of adventure
Remember, mama: Our kiddos’ development is not a competition. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging academic and extracurricular achievement. Just be sure it’s not at the expense of developing their character. Kids need to have the chance to embrace their childhood and to have fun. They need down time. They need to play their sweet little hearts out. They need to learn how to love and be loved.
Most of all, they need to know that now matter what, they are beloved children of the Lord. That’s where their worth comes from. Our true value and worth comes from the Lord and the Lord alone. With this in mind, our children can tackle anything that comes their way.