I grew up a somewhat shy girl.
I never had a problem making friends, but I was astute enough to choose my friends to make up for the missing pieces in my personality. So even if I wasn’t THE smartest girl in the class, I hung around with the kids who were smart. Even though I was mediocre in my athletic ability, hanging with the kids who were good at sports shielded me from really feeling bad about it.
I was part of the gang, not a leader. A member.
This had its good points. I wasn’t subjected to bullying, because I was friends with everyone. My status in the several “cliques” I formed up though high school shielded me from being an outcast. But it had it’s downside too. I was somewhat invisible. I was well-liked, but easily forgotten. In fact, I didn’t even attend my Senior Prom. Why? Because it was “assumed” I had a date (all my friends did), but, alas, I did not.
I wasn’t the BEST. I wasn’t the WORST. I sailed under the radar.
Finally, in college I established myself as a leader. I was aware enough that I had to move my life in the direction I wanted to go. I was still somewhat reserved, but I flourished in college. I was president of my sorority, active in many organizations, a friend to all, and a well-respected and liked person. I was excited to start a path to my adult life. With leading, came confidence. The confidence that I yearned for for all my elementary and high school days but just could never grasp.
Why do I bring this up?
Because I worry if I am instilling the basics in my son to be that confident person. To nudge him ahead of the curve. To place the building blocks EARLY to enable him to do better in his schoolwork and activities.
Don’t we all want our children to be better and do better than ourselves?
The question is how. How to walk the fine line between ruining your child’s self-esteem, and over-inflating their ego. We all know how bad it can go wrong if you swing too far to either side of the pendulum.
I figure my role as parent is to constantly straddle that line.
Encouraging studies, and participation in activities. Letting a little independence into his spirit, while remaining protective. Letting him know it’s okay to fail, and the best lessons come from those failures. Giving him the tools to succeed, but more importantly to KNOW he can succeed.
Or perhaps it really is as easy as Woody Allen declares….
“Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.”
It’s the other thirty percent that is the wild card.
This post, authored by me, originally appeared on the New Jersey Moms Blog on March 28th, 2009. It still remains one of my favorites.