Almost every mother sees her child as perfect. Think of that instant you first laid eyes on your baby. Weren’t you almost convinced there has never been a baby quite as beautiful as the one you held in your arms? And even though we mothers, more than anyone else, know our children aren’t really flawless, we’d fight tooth and nail with anyone who dares imply otherwise.
It’s always a mystery to me how this happens. I mean, I know my sons are little sinners waiting for the next opportunity to push the limits of their freedom. And yet, my heart melts every time they choose to acknowledge me with a smile, a kiss, a hug.
I choke up when people praise them, I tear up when they bring home their school achievements, I panic at the first sign they are in danger. I’m the first in line to claim they inherited my genes, and I just as loudly assert that they get their bent to behave badly from their father.
I have to admit that so much of my affections are wrapped up in my children’s grubby, little fingers. But even as I lavish them with love and attention, I worry I will end up spoiling them.
The other day, I was reading this book to my sons. If you have it, you’ll know it’s a fun story of a boy who thought he had to look different and have magical powers just to be special.
After reading the story, I brought their attention to the author’s inscription:
In asking the author to personalize it, I was hoping my sons would relate to the moral of the story even more. I was hoping they too would believe, just like the boy in the story, that they are magnificent simply because God made them, and all His works are good.
See, while I would never disregard my children’s failings, I would also want them to know they can be anything they’re called to be. And that they can always begin with whatever they have been given.
One of the hardest challenges a mother (and father) has to face, I think, is this: how do we tread that fine line between raising a child with a healthy dose of self confidence and raising one who believes he/she is entitled to all the good things in life? For isn’t the line between encouraging your child to take advantage of what he has been given to be all he can be and making him think he’s more special than anyone else so thin that it’s barely there?
I try to explain it to my sons this way: between us, in the privacy of our home, I think they’re pretty awesome. But at school, at the playground, in church or anywhere else, they are surrounded by other kids whose own parents think they’re awesome too.
It’s a level playing field and they’ve got see each other that way.
As I help build my children’s self-confidence, I need to make sure they know never to attempt to challenge the value of others with their own. Instead, their self-confidence should cause them to give of themselves. It should help them make the right choices. And in the simplest example I can think of, they should always choose to make friends and not fans.
It is important, I think, to allow my children to experience the real world. Not only does it provide them with a better framework for understanding themselves and others, it will also help them realize that others are really just as special as they are.
And gratitude! There is nothing I hate more than the absence of it in a child. Growing up with an appreciation for life, for the day and what it brings, will teach my children the following basic truths that will shape who they are.
- First of, they are not in control of the universe.
- Secondly, the world does not revolve around them.
- And finally, they are only bit players with fading roles in this play called life.
That’s why I choose not to raise champions. I choose to raise godly men who will live stories of consequence, stories worth reading after the main characters are long gone.