You start thinking back on your childhood and how fun and how much freedom you had. The only worry that crossed your mind was what you were going to wear to school or who you were going to sit with at the lunch table or maybe even who you had a crush on this week. When I think of my childhood, I mostly ponder upon the really good memories. The fun I had with my brothers and friends. Shopping trips with my mom. Summer days on the lake. Running and playing outside in our neighborhood til dusk. My childhood dogs, Knight and Rascal.
My childhood wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies by any means, but when I think back on it, I smile.
It’s 2016 and life isn’t quite like that for kids anymore.
The pressure that is put on kids is insane.
Test after test, grade after grade….at the end of the day it leaves kids who struggle in school feeling like failures and desperately trying to be good enough. A learning struggle then turns into struggling to find your identity. You begin to believe that the grade that was written in red on your paper is your self worth. You hear the whispers of other kids laughing because your name isn’t listed on the board for the A/B Honor roll. You begin acting out because you don’t know how else to handle these emotions you are bottling up inside. The sport you once loved and made you feel more confident than ever, you quit. Because you feel like a failure. Your confidence is gone all because you are trying with every ounce of your being just to be good enough.
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. YOU ARE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT.
How do you get that in their heads? How do you nurture and protect that confidence and instill those values so they know who they are?
If you came here to read my magical answer, I hate to disappoint because I definitely don’t have one.
Like all parents, I love my children. Raising them is one of the hardest tasks I was ever entrusted with. Case in point.
Last night, I sat outside of my daughters room and I was sobbing in a puddle on the floor.
It started with doing homework. She felt completely defeated by new math concepts and I was doing my best to explain the work to her (and lets be real, 5th grade work now is like my 8th grade work back then, okay). I started getting frustrated, my patience had completely worn thin and I was losing it. I was tired of the negative talk and self doubt, tired of the whining, and just completely overwhelmed with life at the moment. I felt myself starting to get really angry. It wasn’t my finest moment but we just lost it on one another. I finally sent her to her room. She stormed off, stomping her feet to shake the whole house, slamming doors, screaming, crying all while telling me how I am the worst parent in the world. At this point, I am doing Lamaze breathing exercises to calm myself down and I am rubbing peace & calming essential oils on me like I am taking a bath in it and if my whole house wasn’t packed in moving boxes, I would have poured a very large glass of vino.
I head upstairs planning to tell her I am sorry and have a calm talk. When I got to her room, all I heard was yelling. Telling herself how stupid she was and how she always fails at everything. She called herself a failure at least 100 times in the 20 minutes I was outside of her door sobbing. This hurt so bad. My child is not a failure. How in the world can she think she is a failure?
As I start to beat myself up thinking I have for sure screwed this whole parenting thing up, I stop myself. God spoke to me as clear as day and said, “all you can do is love her, Lucy.”
Love my baby and tell her that she is perfect, she is not a failure and that God made her a masterpiece. Tell her that no matter what grade gets marked in red on her test, that doesn’t buy my love. I love her no matter what she says or does. I will love her my entire life. Love. That is all.
So as things calmed down a couple hours later and we both held each other and cried with sincere apologies, I whispered I love you and she looked up at me with tears in her beautiful, big blue eyes and said, “I know.”
Today is a new day and I am praying for grace.
So, I don’t have some philosophical answer on how to make the 10 year old pre-PMS drama stop, but I can tell you to just love them and never stop.