By Angie Sutton, www.momsapronstrings.com
Parenting is a privilege albeit a daunting one. I recall my mom occasionally referring to “when she was growing up.” It was usually when we were dining on fried chicken and she recalled in great detail the process of having fried chicken on the farm where she grew up. It always started with, “us kids were sent out to chase a chicken down.” She and my father worked hard to provide my sister and I with just a little more than they had when they were growing up. I am darn sure thankful I didn’t have to chase down my dinner.
If I had to guess, their parents did the same for them and also with each generation before that.
Now, I’m not saying I didn’t grow up with just about everything I needed. I didn’t have the name brand portable cassette player or the Atari. We had the knock-off less expensive versions. I wasn’t a straight-A student but was a steady achiever of a B+. As an adult I can think back to certain times when I’m sure it was a struggle for my parents to figure out how to drive me all over the country to participate in Junior Olympic track meets. The ones I didn’t win and nearly always got third place at. My parents were there cheering me on no matter the outcome.
Then along came parenting for people my age. We want a little more than we had growing up for our children. We are the ones that created participation ribbons and bumper stickers lauding our children’s achievements. With social media so readily at our disposal we immediately share just about everything. My kids often let me know when I overshare, in their opinion.
I just finished reading a book by Michael Anderson and Dr. Timothy Johanson titled, “GIST: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids.” The authors raise a number of questions and make great points for readers to consider. While the book in its entirety is deeply thought provoking, my surface level take-away is worth sharing.
From a statistical standpoint, only about two or three percent of kids are gifted or exceptional at any one particular thing. My generation really wants to gravitate toward thinking our child is gifted and talented. What the authors refer to as “the epidemic of exceptionality.” Is our culture one that raising an exception child becomes expected and being normal is defective?
I had a conversation with some colleagues a few days ago. We were talking about our kids and the struggle to get them to clip their toenails and fingernails. The conversation went on and at one point I said, “I’m so glad we are having this chat because I feel so normal now!”
Teaching our children there is joy in being normal is okay. Teaching them resilience is to be celebrated. Resilience keeps their failures from becoming a defeat. It is one of the top life skills that our kids need to learn from our generation. When they do something outstanding, applaud it. When they experience failure, be there alongside them.
Help them learn to understand and appreciate the journey, not any prizes that may or more likely may not be waiting. Teach them how to be a lifelong learner. And show them the value of teamwork and one of the best skills a person can use: listening.