In the second chapter of Building Better Families by Matthew Kelly he talks about his family, both his seven brothers and his parents.
While I found the information interesting the quote that really got me was this one:
“To be loved and enjoyed simply for who you are independent of what you do.”
It got me thinking about how often I focus on what my kids are doing, how much they are achieving and not on who they are.
I remember when they were small and my conversations with other mothers revolved around who was crawling, eating, walking or talking first. It felt like a competition.
As my kids got older the milestones changed, but the attitude didn’t. We parents seemed to live and die by how our kids compare to other children.
Now my oldest is getting ready to graduate from high school and I find parents comparing what colleges our kids are applying to.
Happily I jumped off this merry-go-round of comparison when my oldest was in 2nd grade. That is when she was diagnosed with Aspergers (a form of autism.) She hadn’t been meeting milestones for a couple of years and it was heartbreaking. I had gotten wrapped up in the myth that my worth as a parent was somehow tied to how accomplished my child is.
Since that time I was forced to come to terms with who she really is and realize that what our society was telling me is wrong. Children don’t have to measure up to some imaginary line of accomplishment or socialness (is that a word) to be valued and loved.
If she doesn’t want to go to birthday parties, football games or even prom, she doesn’t have to go. We are making her go to her own graduation – no matter how much she complains. She is her own person and we love her just the way she is. (At least most of the time – she is a teen after all.)
We are very proud of her and the caring young woman she has grown into.
Our next challenge is to help her younger sister survive middle school without imploding.
During the next 3 years she is going to be constantly bombarded with media and peer pressure that clearly states that how she looks is far more important than what she does or how she behaves.
We are working hard to battle that message. If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it.
For right now we are going to follow Matthew Kelly’s advice,
“Don’t seek to control or change people, just enjoy them for who they are and where they are right now.”
If we live each day, moment by moment with this in mind I think we will be surprised at how much we enjoy the journey.
If you missed the other articles in this series here they are: