I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Wearing their own shoes:
I took my son to his high school open house on Wednesday. As difficult as it is for me to believe that my baby boy is now in the 9th grade I have to admit that I am pretty excited for him. Our county is opening a brand new state of the art high school this year which means he will have a wonderful new modern space to learn and grow in over the next four years. As we made our way through the halls and around folks who were just as lost as we were, we found our way to his Geometry Honors class to meet his teacher. Actually, we already know his teacher (we go to church together) but we needed to get the supply list and get the “skinny” on what she has planned for the year. When we entered her room she was having a conversation with the principal; a rather larger than life fellow who can at times be a bit daunting. As they were finished, he turned and spoke indicating that he thought he knew me. I shared with him that my daughter had graduated in 2011 and immediately he remembered her. Introducing my son I shared with him how excited we were to be in the new school and that we were looking forward to a great year. As he shook my son’s hand he said “Son, you have some pretty big shoes to fill.” Oh no he did not just tell my son that he had to be like his sister! In fact, that is exactly what he did and just like any momma bear protecting her cub, I quickly replied “Oh, no sir, he has his shoes to wear, hers don’t fit him.” Chuckling as he realized my point he wished my son well and headed out the door. Point taken.
When we become parents we quickly find our children being compared to others almost immediately after birth. There are various scales and charts that our babies are compared against. I remember my son being in the 95th percentile for height and weight when he was little and wondered why that really mattered. In his preschool years, there were statistical charts indicating what he should and should not be able to do at various ages and stages which lead me to wonder what did it really if he could hop on one foot at the age of 3 ?. I mean he has two feet, why is it necessary to hop on just one of them? And then there are those glorious standardized tests that children are required to take at every milestone in school. Our children are constantly being compared to one another whether we are the ones doing it or not; and I personally do not think it is fair to them.
Children should be treated as the individuals they are. I have two children who are as different as night and day. Yes, they are born of the same biological parents but that is just about the extent of their similarities. My daughter is a lover of education. She longs for the start of school and is sad when it is over for the summer. My son is not as fond of school and does a happy dance when summer vacation arrives. I could go on and on about their differences but then I would be guilty of comparing them, so I won’t.
Comparing children to their siblings or other children is unfair. Everyone is unique in their own way and that uniqueness should be celebrated. While my daughter wishes to explore the idea of becoming a doctor, my son shows interest in culinary arts. As the parent it is my job to encourage each child to follow their own dreams and make their own decisions while not comparing one to the other. I urge you to allow your children to be their own individuals; not a carbon copy of their sibling (or anyone else for that matter.) Parents must be the positive force that is behind their children encouraging them to be who they want to be. As difficult as it is sometimes we must avoid saying things like “your sister never did that” or “Why can’t you get straight A’s like your brother?” or “When I was your age, I never wanted to do that.” Comparisons can damage a child’s confidence and build barriers between siblings (and others). Instead of comparing them to one another, find ways to celebrate their differences and encourage them to encourage one another. Life is full of opportunities; which is why I firmly believe that we were all created with different likes and abilities. What a boring world we would live in if everyone was exactly the same. In the words of famed author Dr. Seuss, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Allow your children to wear their own life shoes and walk the path that they choose for themselves; after all walking in our own shoes is way more comfortable than someone else’s. As for me and my family, my son will hop on the bus and begin his high school career allowing his name to be shortened from Christopher to Chris (yes, I cringe) while his sister will pack up her stuff once more and head off to college; each with their own thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams, and yes, their own shoes.
Also, please visit Karla’s Lifetime Moms page and read her articles.