Do not ask that your kids live up to your expectations. Let your kids be who they are, and your expectations will be in breathless pursuit.
I am not a bragger. I "blame" my mother. Seriously, she made it very clear (in her opinion anyway) that to be proud or boastful in any way is a sin. Unfortunately, she took this "belief" to mean that she should rarely (if ever) give out compliments, lest any one of my siblings or I become prideful. I honestly don't think she withheld praise to be mean. I just think she was a bit ... misguided.
Don't brag about yourself, let others praise you.
Proverbs 27:2 (CEV)
True, we should be cautious when blowing our own horn, but what about praising others? No harm there. In fact, it's a good thing (for the most part anyway which I will go into in a bit). It instills confidence and promotes self-esteem. Lack of praise from others, especially a parent, can cause self-doubt and low self-esteem ... something my siblings and I all experienced first hand.
With this in mind, I determined that once I became a mother (God-willing) I would not make the same mistake my mother did. I didn't plan to go overboard with the whole praise thing because I knew empty praise would be damaging in it's own way. Instead I hoped to give sincere compliments to my kiddos and let them know I love and am proud of them. So far I think I have done a pretty decent job of that. All three of my chicklets are pretty confident and have good self-esteem. Boy Wonder has had many occasions in his life that would have been very hurtful if he lacked the confidence he has in himself and his abilities. It's a little early to tell with the Little Prince, but I sense in him a quiet confidence as well. He knows what he wants and he goes for it. I think he too will fare well in this crazy world.
That leaves the Munchkin...
She has a personality and air of confidence that I envy. I can't take credit for much, if any, of it. She came out of the womb ready to take on the world and I can only imagine the life she will lead.
Ok, here's my problem ... not only has the Munchkin been blessed with a strong self-esteem, she is beautiful. I know, all parents think their children are beautiful ... and they are, but there's something about the Munchkin that makes other people, complete strangers often, stop and comment. I cannot tell you the number of times people have come up to us and commented on her beauty. I am not exaggerating, people will interrupt us while we are eating at a restaurant to compliment her. I hate to say this, but it's happened so often we kind of take it in stride now and almost are tempted to be rude and say, "Yeah, right ... whatever... go away and let us eat in peace."
But her beauty is more than just skin deep, it seems. People are always telling us how special she is. I kid you not, it happens all.the.time. Just last night I got a text from a woman we met when Boy Wonder was in the local children's choir. We would see her while we waited for choir practice to be dismissed. Last night we were exchanging texts and kind of catching up on the last six months since we last saw one another. Here's one of her texts:
(The Munchkin) is one of those rare souls you might be lucky enough to cross paths with in life ... but get this -- God granted me the grace of actually more than just a one time meeting -- we got to bond and take advantage of the time we were given...you and your hubby created an angel ... thanks for being generous enough to share.Let me digress for a minute here. I think she's a cutie too. But like I said earlier, all parents think their children are cute. I think she is special too, but, I also know she can be a real stinker sometimes. I am not being mean when I say this, but I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I, myself, have always felt pretty invisible when in a crowd, but this isn't true for her. What do these people see that would make them approach a complete stranger (often going out of their way to do so) to give a compliment? That said, it must be something I don't see, maybe because I am so close. Something about her that draws others out. Again, a reason I am sure God has great plan's for her in this world.
So back to the "problem." How do I handle the excessive praise (and we are talking E-X-C-E-S-S-I-V-E here folks!) she receives from others? I don't want to deny her it, but I also don't want her self worth to be tied up in her looks. What should I, as her mother do?
I'll tell you what I have done. I have told her that God has blessed her with beauty and charm. I have also told her that because of that, much will be expected from her. I have told her that some people will be jealous and when she slips they will be quick to point it out. I have said that even when she's nice, some people will still find things to criticize about her. I've told her that no matter what, she needs to focus on the right things.
I think what sums it up best what I have done is the blessing the Geek and I spoke over her recently at church...
"You are a precious gift from God. May you remember that charm can mislead and beauty may fade, but the woman to be admired and praised is the woman who honors the Lord. And may your light always shine from within so that through you others may see God's love."