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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Focus on the strengths and "critical" weaknesses, forget the rest.

Let's start with a few assumptions. 
  1. There are only 24 hours in a day.
  2. Parents are human beings and therefore not perfect.
  3. Kids are little human beings and are also not perfect.
We all want our kids to excel.  We put them into after school activities to encourage their artistic streaks or sports teams to help their bodies develop.  We hire tutors to get them through 6th grade math and then secretly read the texts at night so that we have some idea of how to solve the problems ourselves.  When our kids fail, we feel as though it is our failure and we then dedicate ourselves to spending more time reading with them, playing catch with them, signing them up for more programs, buying them more study tools (ipads??) in the hopes that next time they/we will succeed.

Parenting is a full time job but even so, there is not enough time to help our kids in every area of need.  Now say this with me, "Our kids will never be perfect."  That wasn't so hard was it?  Now how about this one, "It is OK if our kids are not perfect." This should not be a difficult concept to comprehend since nobody out there is perfect but for a parent it can be a struggle to admit it.

All children are born with certain strengths and weaknesses.  Genetics is funny that way.  Then, as our kids grow, they develop additional strengths and weaknesses.  Some of the weaknesses are critical ones and our kids will need to work hard to overcome.  Reading well is a difficult skill to do without in the world today.  If your daughter has trouble in that area then it is great that she has loving parents to help her improve.  Other weaknesses, are not such a big deal.  It is OK if your son is tone deaf.  He may not become a successful musician but that is OK too.

Please recall assumption number one, there are only 24 hours in the day.  There is not enough time to improve on our son's every weakness and build on each of his strengths.  Doing so would result in a young man who does not stand out.  He will be mediocre.  Instead, we should go for "outstanding" or "amazing".  The only way to do that is to focus on his strengths, improve on the "critical" weaknesses and leave the other weaknesses alone.

We all want our kids to grow up to be confident, self-sufficient adults.  Their future employers want that from them as well.  Confidence comes from a regular diet of success.  Building on existing strengths increases the probability of frequent achievements.

When our children head out for job interviews and careers they will need to show how they are better than the competition.  There will be many mediocre kids applying for jobs and differentiation will be the key to getting the offer.  Along with  the confidence that comes from being good at something, employers will also appreciate the focus and dedication that went into becoming the captain of the soccer team, a published author at 19 or the developer of five popular iPhone apps while in college. 

And, our kids will be happier too.

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