Once the population grew and more and more parents inhabited the earth, I’m guessing they weren’t all too concerned with one-upping each other. You know, on account of survival and everything.
Can you imagine? “My kid’s spear is sharper than yours!” “Oh yeah? My kid can lift a boulder three times his weight!” Maybe it happened. I dunno. All I do know is that competition in parenting is hurting our children.
It’s no secret that there are people in life who need to win, and not necessarily because they want you to lose; they just need to win more. And sadly, this need to win translates to parenting.
Sure, there are non-competitive parents who are winning every day. Like that dad who freaked out with excitement over his son’s math grade? Winner. Or that dad who built an amazing costume around his son’s wheelchair? Total winner.
But these parents aren’t working their parenting mojo for the glory; they’re winning by virtue of putting their kids first when it really mattered. These winners inspire me to be that incredible, do better, think more creatively, and honor my children even more.
But then there are the “other” parents; the parents whose sole purpose is to outdo each other under the guise of stellar parenting. The parent who brings snacks of boutique bottled waters and gourmet Whole Foods snacks in silent protest to your barrel of Costco cheese puffs. The parent who hosts yearly birthday parties you’d have to mortgage your house to afford. The parent who manages to consistently undermine the reality you’re working so hard to instill in your children.
And while the truth is that not every parent holds simplicity dear and no two personal realities are alike, what I don’t understand is why modern parenting isn’t progressive enough to prepare our children for real life. In a culture supposedly so concerned with human welfare and social justice, why are parents working so hard to shelter their children from real life with excessive living?
Why does our kid have to be the biggest, brightest, and best — or at least appear to be? Why do our kids need to be Z-list celebrities online? Why do we have to sacrifice our own happiness or financial security to make our children’s lives entirely too comfortable? Because we love them? I guess I have a different take on love.
I’m far from a perfect parent, but of all the ways I know how to show love — aside from bear hugs and peppered kisses — educating and preparing them for life nears the top of my list. The real world needn’t be a scary place, but it ought to be a familiar one.
My kids will really want things they’ll never get — strictly on principle — and they’ll miss out on certain experiences and hate me for it. My kids will understand disappointment and loss, but hopefully, if I’m able to adequately balance the haves with the have nots, my kids will know that in spite of the things they don’t have, they always, always had love.
Parenting: I’m not in it to win it to other parents’ eyes. I’m in it to do right by my kids, raising them with realistic expectations and hard-earned values.
Because in our house, compliments, money, and privileges are earned. Love and respect are constant. And humility is golden.
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