When I was in the trenches of early motherhood, I wanted to prepare my infant son for the SATs, Olympics, and the Philharmonic. Thirteen years later—I have to say—he is really smart, but he can’t throw a discus or play the cello.
I fell prey to the pressure to raise a Super Baby. Our toddler’s calendar was filled with music lessons, gym classes, story times and more. Eventually, I realized my efforts were hurting our ability to simply enjoy his babyhood. Here’s what I wish I had the foresight to realize:
Think in terms of personality and character, not achievements.
I saw both my son and daughter as curious, communicative, kind, and self-assured. Encouraging those traits became my short-term goal, and I stopped focusing on their future careers.
The pursuit of excellence comes at a cost.
I once tried to add up all the money we’ve spent on classes and enrichment activities. Ouch. Consider which classes are worth the cost. Maybe a music class allows your child access to instruction you can’t provide. But is an indoor gym class really better than an hour at the local playground?
It’s not really about what you want.
Your kid will eventually find their talents and interests, and they may not be the ones you envisioned. I’ll admit, I still wish my son were more athletic. But that’s not his path, and pushing him has only led to frustration and sometimes tears. He’s found his niche in other interests, and he’s happy – and that’s what matters.
The best parents rise above competitive comparisons.
It makes me crazy to hear moms compare how many words their children can speak by the age of 18 months. Every child has strengths and weaknesses. Acceptance is a healthier and much saner way to enjoy your children – and for them to enjoy their own accomplishments.
Traci L. Suppa thinks time travel is the only explanation for her son turning 13 this year. Her six-year old daughter brings the glam to their crazy household. In addition to her own family travel blog, Go BIG or Go Home, Traci is a contributing blogger for FamilyVacationCritic.com and has written for WomansDay.com and NewParent.com.