You’re Not Special: The Messages we Send our Children
I had to smile when RookieMom referenced David McCullough Jr.’s commencement speech in last Friday’s links, because as soon as I heard the story about it on the radio, I knew I wanted to write something about it. I think we both agree that the message of the speech is a good one.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the messages we send our kids by some of the things we say to them. As I’ve referenced before, both of my kids, but especially Max, say “I can’t” a lot. I usually redirect and ask him to ask for help instead of saying I can’t, but some people have said to him something along the lines of “of course you can, you can do anything you set your mind to”. I know I’m cynical, but it just makes me cringe when I hear that. I can’t help thinking that it’s just not true. I’m not saying that people should set limits for their kids as far as achieving goals, but can anyone really do anything he puts his mind to? Chances are, Max isn’t going to play in the NFL for example. So as a parent, should I be encouraging him to try to practice hard? Yes, I should. But should I be telling him that if he does that, he’ll make the team? I’m not sure. His chances will be higher, yes, but is the correct message to actually tell him that he can do ANYTHING? I’m not so sure.
So back to the Wellesley High School Commencement Speech. I’m sure some parents were shocked to hear this message at their child’s high school graduation, but I think it’s a good one. You have to work hard to achieve things. You have to pay attention and learn how to learn and ask questions. There are always people in the world who are going to be better than you at something…though there is nothing wrong with trying to be good at something; better at something.
What do you think? Should we be honest with our kids or continue sending them affirmative messages?