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Competitive Comparisons

We were at a family funday organised by a local madressa during the weekend, and there was a friendly soccer tournament happening at the same time. Some if not most of the comments I heard regarding what was supposed to a fun game of soccer, were shocking! Parents screaming and shouting at their own kids, at the other team, at the referees. Since when did parenting become such a competitive sport? And later it didn’t end there…There were constant comparisons about whose child did what and at what age. From when they first crawled, took their first step, said their first word, went to the toilet, read a book, rode a bike, counted to a hundred, cooked a meal!!!

These are meant to be the childs own accomplishments, and yes, while the parents contribute to it, and facilitate it, there’s a fine line between proud of your children’s abilities and becoming boastful and arrogant about it. 

Being forced to endure lessons in activities that they have no interest in, stifles them, and dulls their enthusiasm. Over and over again, I’ve seen parents sending their kids for ballet and archery and pottery and karate… When all the while that child looks miserable, but the parent has more bragging rights! We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies. Childhood shouldn’t be our race.

It should be a time where the passing of days are measured by how many times they rode a bike around the block, or the number of times they jumped in a puddle. Seasons should be measured by the newfound ability to climb the tree at grandma’s house that was just too difficult to do last summer, or finally being able to fly a kite without Dads help. 

Equally important to learning abc’s and 123’s, is the freedom to discover what makes them happy, the space to explore their interests, to see what makes their hearts sing, to watch what makes their eyes sparkle! 

Parents need to remember what their own childhoods were like, to remember that success in life is not based on Grade 3 Maths scores, or goals scored at a soccer field. The thing that helped me, motivated me, and propelled me was the knowledge that I was and am loved, that no matter what I do, there’s people who will always have my back, and the belief I can accomplish things I put my mind to. All of these were instilled in me as a young child, and hopefully I can pass it on to my own Little People. While I too want them to succeed, and be the best at all that they do, I recognise that in the long run, having faith is more of an advantage than having a long resume at 10 years old, so if they place first at a spelling bee contest, or at the sports field, we’ll go out and have a celebratory ice-cream, and if they don’t we’ll still go out to have a cheer-up ice-cream!

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