In the Era of the SuperKid, Advice for Parenting the Average child

by Lian on September 10, 2012

In the Era of the Superkid, it can be a lonely road parenting an Average Child.  And boy, nothing makes you confront “average” like the college admissions process. Several conversations I’ve had recently reminded me to go dig up a column I wrote several years ago for Oprah.com . When you hear other parents talk, it seems like every other child but yours ( and mine!) is an academically-gifted, award-winning pianist who started a foundation for rescue dogs while averaging 17 points a game as power forward.  What if your child is, gasp, normal?  Relax.  Here’s some advice on raising a (great) average kid:

Cultivate Perspective  Your kids have at least 18 years in your care. That’s a long time for them to become the happy, healthy human beings we all hope for. Their long-term prospects are not determined by whether they can read at age four or not!  When it comes to fostering development, remember the phrase: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  As a parent, you have a long time to do your job and see results.  Don’t rush them or yourself!

Focus on the Positive  Easy to say, harder to pull off in a society where the focus is on SATs and GPAs.  But look at the whole child, beyond numbers. Is she kind to younger siblings? Does he play guitar and write his own songs? Is she a terrific public speaker? Every child is great at something. Remember the unquantifiable qualities you admire in your child at report card time.

Understand their Strengths  They are their own people, not little versions of you!  Genetics is no guarantee they will inherit your talents. If you love books, it may devastate you if your son is not a reader. (Guilty as charged!)  You love math; Junior hates numbers. You were captain of the lacrosse team; your daughter prefers ballet. I know it’s tough, but try to get over it!  Let them find their own passions

Disengage from Comparisons  The conversations amongst parents comparing children are endless. Who should make the travel team? Who has the better voice in the school play? Who got into what pre-school?  Getting caught up in the drama can create anxiety about how your own kid measures up. Keep a safe distance from these sorts of conversations.  Give your child some space to grow at their own pace.

Find a Guinea Pig Mom  Befriend a mom whose kids are a little bit older than yours and she is a little bit wiser than you– a big sister, a down-to-earth neighbor, a college roommate. This is your Parenting Guinea Pig. She can give you the “Been There, Done That, with Varying Degrees of Success” reality check that you need to manage your expectations.  Listen to her hard-won advice.

Any advice you want to share? Please do.

Embracing my chaos, Lian

Related Columns:

The Gift of Flight

Help me, I’m Hovering: Advice for Helicopter Parents

 

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{ 3 comments }

chris d. September 14, 2012 at 6:29 AM

thanks Lian for your podcast and fresh thinking on many topics..I did not regard motherhood as a job either, but a calling; it was a joyful, frustrating scary at times, privilege.. it was a choice.

Creating one’s family is wonderful; working in or out of the home at times, or any variation of that, does not matter…

there are just hard times because nothing in life is really a seamless affair..said by a 64 yr old..

My first daughter, after much planning for her life, gave birth to a wonderful baby boy, her job upon return to work was a promotion, the care giver was arranged..but at 2 months, they found out the baby son had a serious automsomal recessive disorder, one of 15 such children in the world. Her life changed as a mom overnight ..its nearly 8 yrs now. He will never see her face or call them mommy and daddy, but love is palpable. He is a gift that brings definition of love and priorities. We women need to be compassionate to all mothers and to be careful in complaining or offering judgements on other women.. We are all connected and in it together.

cd.

Lian September 12, 2012 at 6:09 AM

That’s a great quote, Janet. Love it. Lian

Janet September 10, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Thanks so much for sharing this. I, too, have a high school senior. I was hesitant to open Facebook after a local mom posted that her daughter was accepted into National
Honor Society. At our school you have to be a team captain or president of some organization in order to apply. I think some kids invent clubs so that they can be president. We don’t play that game, so no NHS on the college apps. My favorite e-card quote is: comparison is the thief of joy (Teddy Roosevelt). I think that will be my mantra for the year. I haven’t fact-checked it, so I hope it is correct.

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