I’m raising average kids. They will not be going pro in any sport. They will not be the valedictorian. They will not be landing on the moon. And they will not be President.
But I pray (every day, actually) that they will be extraordinary at love.
You see, I did not always practice this parenting mentality. I used to be a real go-getter. With my first child, for example, I wanted him to walk before he turned one, made sure he was more than ready for kindergarten and enrolled him in many sports and activities before age five. Because, of course, I needed to give him the leg-up. I put my all into both him and his little sister—but not with the best intentions if I’m being honest.
Back then, I thought that my kids’ successes were a reflection of me. But what I didn’t realize is that success can (and should) look different than the proof we see measured on report cards, goals scored and the number of activities enrolled in. Because what really matters is how their soul turns out. That they’re kind and compassionate of others. And all of that? Now, that takes practice—from both the kids and the parents.
I’ve learned that kids can only grow to love when they see it modeled in us as parents—parents who aren’t hyper-focused raising kids who are “the best.” Sure, they can be both successful and compassionate, but now, I focus on the latter.
So, instead of shooing them out to go practice basketball or study until their brains fall out while I cram out another article, we slow down. I show them how life is in the little things, like picking a bouquet of wildflowers and tying a bow around it to give to the elderly widow next-door neighbor.
Nope, my kids will not be shooting off into space with NASA, but they will be extraordinary at love.
They will be the friend who makes homemade soup and delivers it when a family loses a loved one.
They will always return their grocery carts.
They will mow their neighbor’s lawn or shovel their snow-filled driveway just because.
They will know how to listen—especially to those who need it most.
They will make time to return phone calls.
They will still send cards on birthdays.
They will know how to forgive.
They will be empathy givers.
They will know how to say, “I’m sorry.”
They will know how to act vulnerable and cry in someone else’s arms.
Oh, and this one’s important—they’ll know how to love themselves by giving themselves grace, love, time off and setting boundaries.
All of this sounds really great, doesn’t it? But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As their parent I’ll admit, sometimes I have to fight that twinge of jealousy I feel when Susie’s kid scores five goals in one game and has already mastered the violin (with a college-level reading level, of course).
But now I combat that feeling by trusting that my kids will be exactly who they are meant to be without the added pressure.
They don’t need to fulfill high goals to fulfill my ego. Their life should be about them. Plus, they only get one childhood—and that should be preserved, cherished and protected. I will no longer sign them up for too many activities. Instead, we’ll go on innumerable nature walks, create art, and read countless books together nestled on the couch.
The time is now to create these memories. Some argue that kids can grow up to be both extraordinary at love and extremely successful. I don’t doubt that. But what I do know is that they need time. Time to nourish these characteristics and to make caring for others and the world a habit. If they’re overscheduled, this will not become second nature to them.
If I’m more committed to raising loving adults and less concerned with their high achievements, my kids will be just fine. And more importantly, they will impact the lives of others. They will move mountains by just being themselves. But instead of being a hurricane, they’ll be the whispering wind—who blows goodness into the spirits of others.
So, yup. I’m raising average kids.
Average kids who will be extraordinary at LOVE.