Dear Fellow Parents,
I have something to say.
Your child isn’t perfect. Your child never will be perfect. (For the record, none of my children are perfect. They never have been and they never will be).
Please stop insisting that your child is perfect. Humans, by nature, are not perfect.
Also, your child will never be the very best at every single thing they do all of the time.
AND THAT IS 100000% OK.
It really is. I promise.
Please, I beg of you, accept that your children are human beings with flaws. Embrace them and love them for the individuals they are. Teach them to accept losing gracefully and how to learn from failure. Because you know what? They will fail. They will lose. Maybe it’s not today, and maybe it’s not tomorrow, but one day, they’ll fail. Or they’ll lose. And if you’ve spent all of these years building them up on some pedestal of perfection, their whole world is going to come crashing down around them. (My children have flaws. It’s part of what makes them who they are. I’d not have them any other way).
You can’t choose your child’s teachers (unless you homeschool). Let your child’s school staff make those choices. They know what they are doing. They really can handle things. Let it go. That goes for locker assignments, where they sit in class, etc.
You really, truly, honest to goodness do not need to ensure that your child has a best friend in every single activity they do. It’s actually a healthy thing for children to learn how to cope in new situations and they might actually make some NEW friends.
Not every player on a team is going to be the best. The kids know it, I promise. They know who’s got the talent. We have to teach them to be gracious if they are that star player but we also have to teach them to be gracious and happy FOR the star player if it isn’t them. My nephew spent 15? years playing hockey, all through school. He got a trophy at an awards banquet in high school for most valuable defenseman (or something similar, I don’t remember the title of it)….and when he got home he said to his mom ” I finally got a trophy that means something, mom!” His comment has stuck with me for years. All of those years playing, he got trophies. But he knew they didn’t hold a lot of meaning- that one trophy really meant something to him. It’s still on his bookcase in his room. I smile when I see it.
Please, please. Think about this. For all of us who call the teachers to insist your child should have a better grade- are you going to call their employers and insist they get a raise? Do you think they should get a raise because they tried really hard? Just because your child wants to start the game for the team doesn’t mean the coaches feel that’s best for the team.
We are our children’s parents, my friends. It’s our job to help to prepare them to be adults who are able to be contributing members of society. Are we really doing them favors by always insisting they are right…or that they are always best????
We need to teach our children that when you say you are going to be some place, you get there. On time.
We need to teach our children that WHEN they screw up in life, they have to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move on. If they don’t learn from mistakes now, as children, when we parents can guide them along so they can LEARN how to do it, how are they to learn what to do as adults?
We need to teach our children how to deal with failure and disappointment. They aren’t going to be praised and promoted at work just for showing up and sitting at their desk all day….that’s now how the real world works. How are they to learn all of this if we’re not helping them to learn it as children?
Our job as parents is absolutely, unequivocally, to first and foremost love our children. But part of loving our children is giving them the tools and resources they will need to live as an adult in the real world. I feel like many of us have lost sight of that ultimate goal- and we need to find our way back.
A very wise mom once said to me that when her last child left home to go to college, she knew she’d worked herself right out of a job. She raised four children- each left home, went to school, found work, and has been able to navigate the real world. That’s my goal as a parent…to work myself right out of a job.
Listen, I’m not saying we need to not love our kids, or encourage them. I absolutely believe we need to. But I think we need a reality check, collectively, as parents. We’re NOT all parenting superhumans- it’s just not possible. So maybe we need to take a step back, look at the amazing individuals our children are WITH their flaws and imperfections, and enjoy our time with them while we can- but also remember that these wonderful, imperfect little beings are going to grow up and be imperfect adults who have to go out into the real world at some point. Isn’t it better to help guide them through disappointment and failure now, while they are young?
Also, I know there are exceptions. But those are exceptions. Not the norm.
What do you think? Are we helping our children by being over involved and giving a sense of perfection?
This post has been brewing in my head for a while. The Daddy Complex’s post about the CTFD Method just kicked me into gear to write it (there’s language in his link but it’s spot on – worth the read!!)