When Your Child is NOT Awesome!
I agree with this article by Kathy Buckworth about how we as parents today, wrongly “prop our kids up with false praise.” We never want to let them fail or go home empty handed, without a trophy or prize. My husband, the evil genius and I have never overly subscribed to this kind of parenting. We are self-professed “tough” parents, “mean” parents or “hard asses” as I liked to say when it comes to our kids because we just don’t seem to parent like every one else.
Our big girlie was in the Intro level when she started swim club. By the end of the year she had progressed enough to be moved into another level, Intro Comp. At the year end banquet all Intro kids were given trophies. I guess because she had been moved they “forgot about her” or it was an oversight etc… she didn’t get a trophy. She was visibly disappointed, so was I and we did…nothing. We didn’t ask for a trophy. We didn’t talk to anyone that she didn’t get a trophy. We were not offended that she was forgotten. Was it upsetting? Of course. Did she “need” it? No. Did I really need to make it a big deal and tell someone or write a strongly worded letter? Nope! My child is not a special snowflake in need of protecting from every bump along the way. There are battles to fight for my children. This was far from one of them. Just because there was not a lot of coddling doesn’t mean there were not lots of snuggles and hugs and kisses along the way. Like most parents we only ever want the best for our children but for us that also included prepping them for the bad as well as the good. We have always taught them that life isn’t fair, they can’t always get what they want, people make mistakes and sometimes they are simply not awesome at everything they do.
Both our girls are in competitive swimming so they can swim, in circles, upside down and then some…but when our youngest first started competing she thought she was awesome! She was too cute with that get up and go attitude and was happy with any performance. We loved it. Her enthusiasm even after she finished dead last in her heat was fun and infectious. But then she started mentioning how awesome she was after every swim. Not in a hey-mom-I-just-finished-my-first-race-ever-wasn’t-I-awesome? kind of way but she was thinking her efforts really were awesome worthy. They weren’t. Finally after a few times of too many “awesome” moments the evil genius had to take her aside and tell her that she was actually less than awesome and that others around her in her group were doing better than her.
Usually at this point in retelling this story I can see other parents start to get uncomfortable and give me funny looks. They are thinking “how on earth can you tell your kid they are not awesome?” He said it because it was true and in order to be really awesome she needed to kick it up a notch. To be honest, she took this info in stride with nary a shrug. It wasn’t for several weeks before we noticed a change, something was different. Her swim performances were actually getting better. She stopped talking about being awesome and started to remark on specifics; like her great turn or her dive was getting better or she kept up in practice with so-and-so. Something clicked. It seemed she was no longer awesome but she was indeed a much better swimmer.
Fast forward to last weekend’s Central Region Championships. It was our swimmer girl’s first meet at this level. She had worked hard to get there as you needed to qualify in order to be at this competition. In the end she didn’t have a great weekend. I was wondering how she would react to her less stellar performances and we had the following conversation:
Me: So what did you think?
SG: It was good.
Me: It was good?
SG: Well, it was okay.
Me: Yes it was okay. Not great but not bad either. What do you want to eat?
Doing the hard stuff when they are young is HARD. I won’t lie but we do it now so we don’t have to do it later. I suffer and sympathize for my children in lots of ways yet sometimes “not awesome” is just fine. We still get to eat!
Posted on February 18, 2013, in enmeshed (helicopter) parenting, kids, parenting, swimming, teens, tweens and tagged failure, false praise, helicopter parents, losing, mean parents, sports, tough parents. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.