Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I heard a question on the radio the other day. "Do we over-value our children?"  I was puzzled by the question.  How could we possibly 'over-value' our kids when they are so precious that we consider them priceless?

As I listened to the discussion I realized that what the speaker was referring to was when we tell our children they can reach whatever star they choose.  They can fulfill any dream they wish.  In reality, that cannot always be true.  We DO live in the land of opportunity and we DO each have tremendous potential to fulfill many of our wildest dreams.  I know.  I have shocked myself sometimes.  However, our individual potential does not encompass all skills and all abilities. 

Not all of us have the operatic voice of Pavaroti, the body type of medal winning swimmer Michael Phelps or the brilliance of Albert Einstein.  Some people have a natural aptitude or gift for becoming a virtuoso musician, while others have to practice very hard to achieve half the skill.  Some people seem to ace every test at school while others, like me, had to toil over our books for hours to pass exams.

So what is the point of all this?  Sometimes we lead our kids to believe they are amazingly gifted in some area when they really, and obviously, are not.  We only have to look at the talent shows on TV to see that some contestants have absolutely no idea that they just aren't anywhere near good enough in 'that field'.

Are we being fair to our kids when we lead them to believe they can 'walk on water'?  The answer clearly is, NO.  They race into the activity fully expecting to win and when they don't make it they feel embarrassed, crushed, hurt and/or angry.  Where did they get the idea that they were so great at that activity?  Maybe in the exuberance of wanting the very best for our kids we slip into unrealistic expectations of them, or maybe we try to live out our own unfulfilled dreams in a child who finds out the hard way that they simply don't excel in that particular area.  We need to protect our kids from disillusionment by preparing them well and providing reality checks.

Yes, we think our own children are the most talented little beings ever born. Yes, we want to be proud of them, but let's not get carried away with what we think they can do.  Let's encourage them to dream lofty dreams and to be the best they can be.  Let's put those dreams into action while, at the same time, exploring whether our children have an aptitude to fulfill them.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

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