There is nothing like a newborn baby — sweet, cuddly and perfect. Each of my three children stole my heart when they were born, and I’ll love them like crazy forever. As a mother, I want the absolute best for my kids. I see in them unmatched potential for good, and I know they have the power to go out and conquer the world one day.
But my babies aren’t babies anymore, and I’m not racing around to pave the way for them.
Over the past 50 years, society has developed an ideology of child-centric parenting, one that puts our kids on pedestals and makes parents subservient to their offspring. Not good. It’s not good for parents, and it’s certainly not good for children — even though we think we’re doing them a favor.
The truth is that our kids aren’t perfect, and they don’t deserve our worship. To go even further, our kids need to respect us as parents. Thinking of our kids as being infallible does serious damage in a few ways. If we want to raise remarkable adults, here are three currently “unpopular” beliefs we need to rediscover.
Our kids are not that special
I think my kids are the brightest, funniest and cutest kids to ever grace the earth, but they really aren’t. There will always be someone out there who is more popular, prettier and more successful than our kids, so we have to stop teaching our kids to measure their self-worth based on others. The truth is that most of our kids will never become olympic athletes, Nobel winning physicists or presidents — and that’s OK.
When we let go of the lofty expectations we have for our kids, we give ourselves and our children an extraordinary blessing. We need to let our kids enjoy their childhoods without worrying about becoming prodigies. As we teach them to revel in their little daily successes, we allow them to dream with both feet still on the ground.
Being good is not good enough
Often, when we do worship our kids, it’s for the wrong things. In the long run, it doesn’t matter if your kid was a soccer star, gymnastics champ or the best pianist in his third grade class. When we focus too much on output instead of character, we teach our children that it’s more important to be good at something rather than to be good for something.
If you’re really looking to raise an exceptional kid, character counts. The grades are nice and the trophies make good room decor, but in adulthood, it matters much more that you’ve raised a kind, compassionate and empathetic person. Teach your children by example to look for and meet the needs of others. As children look outside themselves, they’ll quit seeking so much external validation.
Parents deserve respect
I am not my kids’ short order cook, personal assistant or housekeeper. I am their mom. That means that, if they have a problem with a teacher, they work it out with the teacher. They also order their own meals in restaurants, clean their own rooms and prepare their own breakfasts and lunches. My goal in parenthood is not to make my children’s life easier for them; it is to teach them the skills they need for adulthood.
Someday, each of my kids will have a boss. They each need to learn obedience and respect for authority while still at home. As parents, we can do this in a loving way, but it needs to be done. Rescuing our children is not doing them any favors.
Giving our kids a real leg up in the world has nothing to do with false praise or waiting on them hand and foot. I, for one, would feel like I had failed my kids if they became conceited, entitled adults who were too afraid of failure to try anything hard. The only way to prevent that is for me to take a step back, let my kids be normal and teach them their true places in the world.