As a parent my goal is to raise kids that are functioning members of society – that they have quality friends and are, in return, quality friends – that they are kind and compassionate, show empathy, have a good work ethic, and have a deep faith that they can lean on when times get tough. And I thought, maybe naively, that all parents wanted that for their kids. But I’ve found out that this is probably not true for everyone. And it makes me sad and angry and annoyed.
I shared a story about what my son is going through on my Instagram yesterday. He’s a good athlete, he loves sports and he loves to play sports. It actually doesn’t matter which sport – if he can play – he will. Unfortunately there will always be people who are not kind and will try and wreck what you love. So a team mate had told him that he sucked and shouldn’t be playing and was a crappy hitter. And my son, in return used that negativity and turned it into fuel and had a great game.
But that’s life isn’t it? I really shouldn’t have to teach my 10 year old that if he is good at something – there will be people who will try and pick him apart and put him down. He is in a class of athletes and there are some great athletes in that class – but already there’s an underlying jealousy developing between the kids. Not all of them – just a select few – but still – why? Why is it so hard to cheer and be happy for a kid who is excelling in what they love? Whether that be in sport or music or whatever their hobby is. My kid is not the best athlete in his class but we encourage him to be happy for his teammates, his friends and his classmates – to celebrate with them.
Just an example – there’s a couple of kids in this class who were breaking records left, right and center at the school track meet. The group of boys went up to the sheet where the results were being posted and one of Johnny’s friends was pumped that these kids were breaking records – he was so excited and happy for them. And what happens? Another classmate – who thinks they’re all that and a bag of chips comes up and says “well I don’t see your name up there, why are you so happy?” REALLY?!!!? REALLLY?!? Can we not be happy for people? Can we not celebrate with them? Do we have to be an a$$hole ALLLLLL THE TIME?!!?
But here’s the kicker – where do they learn that from? How crappy is their life if all they do is put others down? Do they never hear encouraging words? Are they not allowed to make mistakes? If they’re not the best or getting recognition – who cares? And explaining why kids are that way to my son is hard – because it doesn’t make sense to him – because he likes to celebrate his friends accomplishments – whether or not he is a part of that accomplishment.
15-20 years down the road no one will care who won what – but they will remember how you made them feel, and what kind of friend you were. They will remember all the times they were bullied and those who pulled them through and stuck by their side. They will remember the encouraging words from the village of people around them. Thank God we have a village! When parents work together to raise decent human beings and back each other and encourage each others kids – wow – what a blessing!
All I’m asking – and maybe it’s too much – is that we try our best to not raise jerks. That we make our kids accountable for their actions and words. My kid is no saint and there are times when his sarcasm and wit and temper gets him into trouble- but there are consequences. He was made accountable for his actions. There was no “oh it’s just a boy thing” or “he didn’t really mean it” or “my kid would never do that”. And he’s learned from that. Because that’s what we do as parents – we teach, we mold, we raise, we parent. And when this class has their 10 year high school reunion I want him to come home and see his buddies and I want them to say – “hey thanks for not being a jerk to me and for being my friend”