We’ve all seen the minivans with “My Child is an Honor Student,” listened to others talk about how their kid was a reader before Kindergarten, seen pictures of the neighbor’s kid winning beauty pageants, and watched our coworker’s child score the winning shot at the basketball game. All of these things are good things and they truly are something to be excited about. I just wonder, as parents, how much we focus on the accomplishments rather than the relationships.
We even do it to ourselves. We’re always seeking more. Whether we want to climb the corporate ladder or gain more “likes” on a social media post, we strive to keep accomplishing. But when we prioritize accomplishments over relationships, I think we miss the point.
Think about it… Who do you want to be around? Do you want to be around someone who has more jewels in their crown, or do you want to be around someone who will listen when you’re struggling? Would you prefer to work with someone who is always trying to surpass you, or someone who is working alongside of you? Do you want to marry the guy who makes 6 figures and comes home and props his feet up, or the one who works hard all day making half of what he is worth, but who will give all of the kids baths, feed them dinner, and sing them to sleep while you have some much needed time out with your friends?
When you talk to your kids, is the focus on accomplishments, or is it on how to have great relationships with others? We sign reading logs, we pay for tutors, we do all the lessons – swim, cheer, football, all of it and there’s nothing wrong with those things. In fact, I encourage so many of them and there’s a lot to learn when we focus on these types of skills. Determination, perseverance, grit, goal setting, reflection, and so much more all can come out of these types of intense focus. It’s good for us and it’s good for our character. But while we’re doing all of that, let’s also talk about how to listen. Let’s talk about empathy. Let’s talk about putting the needs of others before our own comforts and enjoyment. Let’s talk about giving up our turn so someone else can have an extra turn. Let’s talk about conflict. Let’s talk about how we respond when something doesn’t seem fair.
Let’s remember that accomplishments should never require us to sacrifice relationships.
I’ve taught a ton of kids. I’ll never forget their faces and I could definitely write a book on all of the hilarious things they have said and done. Some of the most impactful kids I have ever taught were not the kids on the honor roll… They were the kids who worked well with others, who loved to play and pretend and be themselves with whoever wanted to join. They were the kids who weren’t afraid to share their ideas, but were glad to change their way of attacking a problem or conducting a project when they heard a better idea. I’ve taught kids who would give up their spot in line at special events so the students with special needs could see better, be closer, or get the treat first. There aren’t a lot of bumper stickers for this kind of kid, but this kid will be happy and fulfilled.
Sometimes, I catch myself wondering what my kids will be like when they grow up. I wonder what kind of job they will have, if and who they will marry. I wonder if one of them will be a musician, or if one might be a runner or an engineer or a writer. I have to retrain myself to think a bit differently. I also want to focus more on what kinds of acts of love they might show towards others. Instead of wondering if one of my girls will look like me, or become a teacher like me, or play the piano like me, I wonder if they might adopt a foster child that needs a home, or if they might be someone’s date to Jesus Prom. I wonder if my son will rub his wife’s shoulders when she has a hard day. I wonder if he’ll help the elderly lady put groceries in her car and be able to make friends with the coworker twice his age. I wonder if my kids will know how to work well with others and if they’ll put others before themselves. I wonder if they’ll smile at the shy kid when they pass him in the hallway. I wonder if they’ll choose the kid in gym who never gets chosen. Instead of wondering so much about the accomplishments they might achieve, I want to wonder more about the character they will have and how their lives might impact the world around them.
What do you want to accomplish? Goal set and do it. But more importantly, what kind of relationships do you want to have and how will you leave a legacy for all who know you?