How does my own EGO affect my parenting expectations?
We found out last week that my son was placed in a regular grade 2 class. There were 3 possible options; a grade 1-2 split class, a regular grade 2 class, and then a grade 2-3 split. I know the teachers and principal very well and they know my son and I had complete trust in their judgment for what is best for my son.
As I stood with all the nervous parents checking the master board of class assignments, I realized the impact and influence of my own ego. I would have somehow been disappointed if he was placed in the 1-2 split, but excited about the challenge of the 2-3 split. But alas, he is in grade 2.
As parents, we tend to think our children are awesome at everything. I am not alone in my competitive aspirations for my children. I heard the talk around the school yard prior to the posting, parents whispering their desperate desires for their children's placement. One mom proudly proclaiming (very loudly to no one in particular) that her young grade 1 daughter was perfectly placed in a 1-2 split – “Well, I knew she was ahead of all of her friends! She has been reading and writing since she was 3!”
I am not here to debate split grades, they are what they are and serve a great purpose. While I never even considered that simple fact that students placed in split grades tend to be strong independent workers, I could only focus on the judgment of my son and his abilities. We all want what is best for our child, but we really need to look at where THEY are and not where we want them to be.
The real take away message of my son’s placement is that he is developing at a normal pace. He is average, not gifted or exceptional in any skill set, but is happy. Upon deeper reflection, I realize how fortunate and blessed we are that he is developing “normally” as other families may be dealing with special needs or learning differences.
I don’t think some parents today can accept that their child is normal and average. Many competitive parents enlist the help of coaches, tutors, and mentors to help their children excel past their same aged peers.
“Our son is playing rep hockey with kids 2 years older!”
“Oh really? Our daughter is reading at a grade 5 level, and she is only 7.”
“Oh really? Our son was walking at 6 months, potty trained at 1, and was reading “Choose Your Own Adventure” books in Kindergarten…
So the race continues. Just visit any hockey arena on a Saturday or turn on the popular “Toddlers in Tiaras” TV show with preteen beauty pageants. When will the madness and fever stop?
In the terrific movie, “Searching for Bobby Fisher”, a father discovers his 7-year-old son is a young chess prodigy. I love the scene in the rain.
Dad is scolding his son, seeded #1 in the tournament, for losing in the first round of the chess tournament. The son lost on purpose to the lowest seeded player to see how his dad would react. Dad paces back in forth while son sits on the curb in the pouring rain. The dad asks question after question, "Why did you come out with your Queen so early? How many times have you been told not to do that? The shivering son replies, "Dad why are you standing so far away from me?" All the kid wanted was a hug and to know that he was loved regardless of whether he won or lost. What I loved about this movie was how the script depicted the father's growth in learning how to resist his own ego (being the father of the kid everyone is talking about) and just be a good dad.
Carl Jung said it best. “Nothing has a stronger influence on the development of a child that the unlived life of their parents.”
Your worth and effectiveness as a parent is not measured by how busy your children are or how far ahead of their peers they are. We all want to brag a little about how awesome our kids are so be proud, but check your own ego at the door.
PART 2 – NEXT WEEK –
Your Parenting Ego and the Hurried Child
“The Dangers of RUSHING your children through their childhood.”
*** sorry for the long delay between articles – in the last week of the summer, I broke my hand playing with my children on a school yard (fodder for another blog post perhaps) and just got the cast off. I am back and ready to write!!