The drive for perfection in raising something as mercurial as a child is, as Brene Brown put it, “seductive and dangerous.” Parenting is an emotional wrestling match between love, expectations, fear, hope, frustration, doubt, comparison (what is her child doing?) and self-worth (which depends on the success of my child!)
As we know from the news, many parents will do just about anything to “guarantee success” for their little dumpling. Pay to sneak them into college via nefarious means. Brawl over a call by a 13-year-old little league umpire. Beat up another child at the bus stop (not kidding).
God knows those things do not help your child. They hurt your child.
Consider this quote by Patricia Polacco:
I don’t care what color the parents are. I don’t care if it’s a giraffe and a fish living together. If they’re raising children who believe they’re honored and loved, that’s all that’s important.
I can agree with that statement. Somebody has to honor and love the child, and that process can take many forms. Let’s review a couple.
Beau Bridges said his dad spoke often about “the importance of respect for ourselves, friends, teachers and other adults.” Teaching respect is a form of love.
Actress Betsy Brandt recalled her Aunt Josephine giving her permission to feel when Betsy saw something sad. “You go ahead and cry,” said Aunt Josephine. “There’s no shame in feelings you want to express.” Removing shame is a form of love.
Producer Brian Grazer had Grandma Sonia to guide him and give him confidence to battle his undiagnosed dyslexia. She fed his curious mind via other means. His parents weren’t emotionally available, but Grandma Sonia was. She used to say, “Goodness is good.” And from that grew Brian Grazer’s mission that all his movies and TV shows leave viewers feeling good (he produced A Beautiful Mind, for example.) You can hear the love and honor he received from Grandma Sonia.
There is a beautiful simplicity in each of these examples. It sounds desirable, but heck, where’s the “how to” kit for that?
PLAY TO THEIR STRENGTHS
Enter my friend Brandon Miller’s book, Play To Their Strengths: A New Approach to Parenting Your Kids as God Made Them
Brandon and his wife, Analyn, have gobs of kids. They learned the hard way how to honor and love them for WHO THEY ARE, not for who they aren’t. And lucky for the rest of us, they’ve written a book about it.What I love most about this book is the honesty and vulnerability they show when speaking about the mistakes they made, and then how they shifted their approach. The book reads well and includes quotes from the bible and from human leaders to support their writing. For example, one that struck me was by Charles Swindoll. “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”Each chapter has a point. Each chapter has a “play” (how do you do this?), and each play has a specific series of steps associated with actions and conversation with your kids.Their children offer insight into how their lives improved – they felt loved and honored – when Brandon and Analyn embraced them for who they were.I had the pleasure of reading an early copy, and then re-read it when the published version was released. Brandon kindly references my own book, Destination Unstoppable.I’ve known Brandon for years – he and his wife have offered up a special gift to the universe and we’re darn lucky they made time to do that. If you have kids, I believe you’ll enjoy it, and most importantly, I bet your kids will love you for using some of the concepts and suggestions contained within.
Perfect kids? No such thing. It’s an exercise in futility and certain to disappoint all involved. Kids that are perfectly loved and honored for who they are? Now we’re talking!