How I try to raise my son
I’m the father of a 7-year-old. He’s amazing but completely different from what I dreamed of during the pregnancy.
I always thought about him playing sports with me, kicking a football in the park, watching matches on the TV.
I pictured myself teaching him about all the personal development stuff that I learned much later than I wished so, explaining to him the magic of compound interest, applied to finance or anything else in life.
I imagined myself talking very reasonably to him, with all the calm in the world, showing him the right and wrongs of life.
But life rarely is what we dreamed of.
It turns out that he doesn’t like sports that much, either playing or watching.
He also has the attention span of a door handle… he can tell you every Pokémon full bio, but he can’t repeat a piece of advice or lecture from me 3 seconds after I told him.
He’s “very distracted”, as he usually says.
He has pulled his mother and is more into arts than any other stuff. He's very creative and sensitive, and I think that’s fine.
Since very early he showed remarkable memory abilities and a very strong sense of order.
On the other hand, he is small and still has issues with some sounds in his speech.
During most of these 7 years, I couldn’t help but to compare him to other kids around his age, and too many times I said things like “if you don’t eat well you won’t grow as much as other kids”, or “you see your friend over there, look how big and strong he is, he must eat very well and sleep for many hours every day…”.
Writing this makes me sad and a bit ashamed…
I know this is a common practice among parents, after all, we just want our children to be better, stronger, and smarter than everyone else, but that is exactly the mistake we make.
My son is different from every other kid. He has the things he’s good at, and he has things is not so good at, just like any other human being.
We start failing on them when we concentrate our attention on other kids and make them the benchmark of any criteria.
We then start wishing our kids to be as tall as the tallest kid in class, as strong as the strongest, as smart as the smartest, as pretty as the prettiest… but while doing this we’re just focusing on the wrong side of the equation and leaving the most important part aside, our children.
This got clear to me when I stumbled upon a quote from legendary basketball coach John Wooden, sharing a message from his father (the bold is mine):
“Dad’s message about basketball — and life — was this: ‘Johnny, don’t try to be better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be. You have control over that. The other you don’t.’ It was simple advice: work hard, very hard, at those things I can control and don’t lose sleep over the rest of it.”
All I want now is that my son reaches his full potential, even if that still means he will be the shortest in his classroom or the last one to be picked up for the football team.
I want him to do the things he loves to do and that he’s good at, like arts, and that he grows up happy and healthy.
That is my job as a father, to make sure he has everything he needs to fulfill all his potential, including knowing that he needs to do his part of the job too.
Every other external factor and example is nothing but noise and distractions.
We should take care of our children focusing on them, not on how they compare to others.
Sometimes that’s not easy, but it’s even harder for them to be compared to others that are totally different from them, and that isn’t fair, and if a child can understand that, why can’t we?
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