Being honest with your kid is a difficult thing, isn’t it? You see them as being perfect and you want them to feel it. But, let’s be honest, you know as well as I do that there are just some things your kid is never going to be great at. This idea has been on my mind for sometime because we have finally reached the middle school stage of things where play is a bit more merit-based.
My Experience vs. My Daughter’s Experience
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Hopefully, you’re still with me as I share a story about my own moment of honesty with my daughter, Autumn, and facing a bad memory from my own childhood that triggered my desire to be honest with my kids – no matter what.
When I was younger, I loved to sing. LOVED it. Nobody ever told me that I’m tone deaf and can’t sing – at all. I found out in the worst possible way – let’s just say it involved middle school, choir class, and some cruel kids. That experience stays with me even today and I do not sing in public.
My daughter, sadly, is also lacking the singing gene that much of my family possesses. She too, loves to sing. We decided, as parents, to be very upfront with her about her abilities to a) prevent her from having an overinflated ego and b) prevent her from being mortified by cruel kids/parents/etc. Autumn knows that singing is not her thing, does that stop her from belting out Halsey in the shower? Nope, not at all. And I love every second of it.
A Little Background
We are honest about everything with Autumn. She has lofty goals and realizes just how hard she has to work to reach them. This summer, she ran lines, conditioned, and did agility training on her own in the front yard to improve her basketball and softball play. She practices writing prompts and, as you know, writes blog posts to hone her writing skills. Autumn is already compiling Excel spreadsheets for colleges she is interested in attending and is cataloguing entrance requirements, coaches, programs of study, and costs. I’m not kidding.
This is a kid who works her tail off to improve her chances of reaching her goals. We understand that it does not serve her to lie to her and tell her how amazing she is when the kids knows how hard it will be. So, we support her and give pointers and tough love whenever she needs it. Most people around Autumn have no idea how hard she works to get where she is. But, this isn’t about her. This is about things we’ve seen at her many events.
The Case for Being Honest
At one softball tryout, for an elite softball team, there was a girl who clearly had not played softball long (if at all) and looked very uncomfortable during tryouts. At one point, she got hit in the head with a fly ball because she didn’t know what to do. Her Dad screamed at her and when she was walking out, he was still berating her.
Clearly, that Dad wanted his daughter to play and not only was he not honest with her about her ability, he was not honest with himself. It was awful to watch.
And this is not unique. We see it everywhere. All of the time. Parents have actually told me that they cannot be as honest with their kids as they’ve seen me be with Autumn. That saddens me. Granted, Autumn and I have a unique relationship – think Lorelai and Rory Gilmore – but if you aren’t honest with your kid about their abilities then how will they ever find what they’re truly great at?
Parents, look at your kid, really look at him or her and pay attention to how they fare against the others doing the same thing. If they aren’t up to snuff, tell them and if they still REALLY want it, help them figure out a way to get better. It works with anything, not just sports. Maybe you’ll find, that like the poor girl above, this thing they aren’t very good at just isn’t their thing at all but it leads them to the thing they really love and excel at.
This is just my two cents. Of course.
I’m talking a lot about Autumn because she does not mind when I blog about her. Maddox is more reserved and private so I respect that. It doesn’t mean we aren’t equally honest with him. He is allowing me to share that he struggles a little more with school, he doesn’t have the desire to work hard and it doesn’t come as easy to him. However, Maddox aspires to attention Notre Dame and be the Leprechaun. I’ve personally pulled up the admissions requirements and discussed them with him. Every time he argues about school work or puts them off or his grades take a hit – I remind him of those numbers. It is not that I expect him to be perfect. But, if Maddox wants to reach those goals, it is what he has to do.
I want my kids to succeed in life and being honest with them is the only way I know how.