We parents today are fantastic at telling our babies how wonderful they are at everything they do.
We slap stickers of their sports team logos and the schools they attend on the backs of the cars that we shuttle them around in.
We happily tout their sports victories and weekend wins on social media for all to see.
We parents are proud of our kids.
Perhaps what our kids need from us more than constant pats on the back is a healthier dose of reality. Along with telling Johnny what a gift to the world he is, we need to also make sure he understands these things…
1. Life is hard and full of disappointment
Don’t shield your child from this harsh reality. It’s best our kids begin to understand now that not everyone gets a medal. Suck it up buttercup, because sometimes you will win and sometimes you will lose. Sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don’t. Difficult things happen to good people.
Let’s raise some mentally tough kids who don’t fold at the first sign of struggle. I want my young adults resilient enough to work through their disappointments before seeking out a crying room at college because their feelings are hurt. Sometimes the truth is painful.
Parents pay attention to how you are modeling life when it gets difficult for you. How you handle life’s ups and downs will rub off on your kids.
2. You are not special
Okay, that may be a little harsh for this generation to handle, but life is not supposed to revolve around your kid. In our mission to raise children of high self-esteem, we have mistakingly placed our wee ones as the top priority in our lives.
Be mindful of how you are praising and building your children up because it can actually be to their detriment. The more we put our children on a pedestal, the tougher it’s going to be to get them down. I believe in unconditionally loving my offspring and placing a high value on their hearts and minds, but I never want to raise them to believe they are better than the next guy.
3. Life must not be lived in comparison to others
Who cares if everyone’s doing IT or that so and so has IT? I tell my kids that I don’t care what the Joneses are up to or what they possess. More power to them, but it doesn’t mean IT fits in with our family plan.
I want to raise children who understand the importance of running their own race. People who don’t need to post their acquired material items on social media to gain approval. I want them to be confident in who God made them to be as original, interesting, one-of-a-kind human beings.
Talk to your kids about not believing the hype they see on social media and how we should strive to live a better life off-screen than the one we portray online.
4. NO… to things we adults can afford
Why are kids without jobs walking around in designer shoes, ordering gourmet coffees with expensive iPhones in their back pocket? Few teens earn a paycheck these days, yet they have all the perks of hard-working, wage-earning adults. It blows my mind. Remember back in the day, if we didn’t have the cash in hand, we weren’t doing it or buying it period. Let’s channel some of that old school mentality, shall we?
Kids use phone apps to catch rides from strangers and even have meals or iced coffee drinks delivered to them, all on their parents’ dime. I’ve seen it with my own eyes people. Begin saying no to wants that you can afford but that your child cannot. Perhaps that may just catapult them into wanting to get a job and learn the value of hard work through earning their own cash. Just a crazy thought.
5. You can do hard things
Encourage areas that challenge your child to grow and learn instead of letting them take the easiest path. I’ve heard parents say they don’t have their kids take certain classes at school because they’re too hard. Others have teenagers who are scared or don’t see a need to obtain their driver’s licenses so parents continue to shuttle their capable child around. What happened to pushing our kids a bit out of their comfort zone?
Don’t be so quick to allow your child to quit when life gets challenging either. Know your kid well enough to know when to push them in areas which may benefit them in the long run. Our son wouldn’t be enjoying playing high school baseball today if we’d let him quit the sport when he thought he wanted to a few years ago. That same son is surprising himself earning A’s in a tough honors language arts class that he was adamant he didn’t want to take too. Good for him.
Let’s continue to pat little Johnny on the back while we explain to him how life really works. Our kids must understand and learn from us that the world can be a tough place and that they are going to be just fine.