After talking to my son about my last blog post and asking him to read it, I have learned that I have another challenge. How do you teach your child to work hard, do their best and try to excel at everything they do without helping them to feel like they have to perform for approval?
After my son read my blog post “Having fun”, he responded by saying this:”What I meant when I said no one wants to be healthy is that it’s easier said than done. It’s easier for me to watch my favorite YouTuber play a game than it is for me to go spend the money to buy it. It’s easier to watch someone else be healthy and work out than to spend time and not get the results you want. See, it’s easier to quit than to fail because if you quit then you don’t feel like you can’t do anything or that everything you have done was for nothing.”
My kids have not always had the easiest life. Hell, who has? My life was no bed of roses growing up, and I really wanted things to be a little easier for my boys. I worked really hard so they could have some of the things that I didn’t have, but in the end, we sacrificed in other areas that were so much more important.
Boys do not always express themselves the way a girl might. Girls tend to let you know when you’ve let them down, or if they’re not happy with how things are going, but a lot of boys just stuff all that emotion, or at least that’s what mine do. Every now and then, when something happens that just tips everything a little too far, I will get what they’ve been feeling for a long time. Normally in a way that practically rips my heart out. I have learned, though, not to be so sensitive and to let them vent and express themselves in those moments and try to really hear what they are saying.
The last time this happened, my youngest son expressed to me that he didn’t like me being gone so much and not being available for him when he needed me. I stayed home after he was born until he was around 2, then I went back to work. Mostly because I felt like I needed to, but partly because I wanted to. Eventually, I had no choice. I would have loved a job that I could work from home and be there when my kids got up in the morning and when they got home from school, but that isn’t how it worked out. Now, my oldest son is 25 and my youngest is 17 and you would think that they would need me less, but that’s not necessarily true.
I could sit around and feel sorry for myself because I wasn’t able to be a stay at home mom, or because I made poor choices that affected my boys. I could wallow in regret, and I have. I choose to learn, and to find a way to go forward in a way that is constructive for not only myself, but for my boys and for their children. I have learned so many things in the last few years and I’m not finished learning. We really never stop learning if we’re open to it.
So, I have a second challenge: figure out how to motivate a child to work at succeeding without controlling and manipulating and without guilt. We all need to learn that it’s ok to fail, we don’t have to be perfect at everything, or anything, we can just enjoy the process of learning how to do things and be ok with not being great at them.