On Judging My Children’s Success
In my ten years of parenthood I have felt a lot of external pressure for my children to be seen as high achievers. That pressure may be from comparing who crawled first at parent chat time (spoiler: not my children) or who walked into kindergarten already reading (once again, definitely not mine).
I know that they probably won’t be the football team captain or the star of the musical. And I am more than okay with that.
In that ten years my personal definition of achievement has not necessarily changed…more so that it has clarified itself.
I have realized that for me my children’s “achieving” means that I have set them up to be better people than myself.
More than anything I want for them to feel confident walking into a situation with the clarity of who they are and that they will be proud of themselves regardless of outcome. That they strive for the doing and understanding rather than the accolades.
That they are in the world to lift others up with honesty and integrity. That they can treat others with kindness and equity and not with the goal of out performing.
I am proud of my children when they do well because they are proud of themselves. They are learning their abilities and self-worth. Would I still be proud of them if they showed up and failed? Yes. They tried. They showed up. It is important to have safe places in our lives where we show up and fail and that is wonderful.
Currently we are on a three month trip; I had to pull my children from school a month early before leaving. A huge part of traveling with my children is for them to be out of the binary of success or non-success that their childhood demands. Did you make the team? Did you do well (or implied not well) on the test? It is such a standard as parents (myself included) that we judge the worth of our children’s days with these small questions.
Here on our journey they are just showing up and experiencing. Not everyone has to put their lives on pause to do that. You can just celebrate the small joys of life. You can talk about the hard topics without implying a right or wrong or failure or success. You can model how to just show up for yourself so they know how to show up for themselves.
This essay has been rambling but I guess that is the purpose…just be okay with okay sometimes. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Try to be kind and face the world with curiosity and (I hope) the world will give it back to you. My trip with my children is to teach them that and that that mindset is more than enough to make me proud.