A parenting series that doesn't build from one post to the next; rather, it's a collection of thoughts and advice from a mama who's been there, doing that, intended as encouragement, not dogma. I hope you'll check in every day to see if I'm speaking to YOU! ~ ?
noun \i-?n?r-sh?, -sh?-?\
Definition of INERTIA
One of the best books I've recommended to parents of teens and tweens is Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. Written by twin teen-at-the-time authors Brett and Alex Harris to inspire teens to reject culture's entitlement, slacker mandate, Do Hard Things exposed the low expectations I had for my own middle and high schoolers.
The worst part was I hadn't even realized I had bought what culture was selling.
Most kids, even good kids, will do as little as possible to get by. Rarely will they initiate going above and beyond what is asked or the minimum acceptable standard.
Mediocrity and under achievement creeps into school, a part-time job, even life. That path of least resistance is so much…well…easier than choosing the Hard Thing.
And it's usually enough to satisfy a parent.
Hear me on this: I'm not suggesting your child become an over achiever, active in every sport and school activity, or that straight A's is the only marker of excellence.
What I am suggesting is for you to ask hard questions, of yourself and your children.
Where have you become complacent with your expectations? What does your tween or teen eagerly accept as good enough when you both know he invested little time, effort or mental capacity?
These are conversations you need to be having, not nagging your child to do better. I've found my children to be much more receptive to talking about challenge and change when we aren't in the heat of a moment, when opportunity naturally presents itself.
My daughter, a year round swimmer until we moved to a new state where the sport wasn't offered, was reticent to try new things. I had shied away from encouraging her to take part in team sports when she was younger because I missed their intrinsic value (in an effort to not over-extend and stress her).
The summer before high school started, the women's soccer coach called every female student to invite them to join the team (small school, there weren't try outs). I could tell Rachel was conflicted about attending the soccer clinics since she had never played before. Part of me wanted to protect her from being the worst player on the team, but more so, her mixed signals were confusing.
But finally a light bulb dawned: "Do you need me to make you go to the clinic?" I asked. Relief spread over her face as she exhaled, "Yes!"
She needed that push out of her comfort zone.
As your children mature, you need to be casting vision for what lies ahead. They need to understand what you expect, but much more important, why you expect it. Honestly, in and of themselves, grades don't matter until they hit high school (I won't admit that to your kids if you won't…!), but then they really matter.
For what lies ahead.
Don't push them to be THE best, push them to be THEIR best.
Your turn: Take some time to evaluate your standards and expections; discuss it with your spouse. Talk to your teen and help her to realize the areas where she's rising to mediocrity; spend time with yout tween identifying how he can work towards being his best. And I really hope your entire family will read Do Hard Things, written by teens for teens. Borrow it from your library, pick it up at your favorite bookstore or you can buy it through my Amazon affiliate (and I'll make a few pennies).