The first few weeks of January, I was greeted with many smiling faces and ‘first day of school’ photos. Whether it’s pre-primary, primary, high school or even varsity – every single parent posting pics are so proud of their offspring. As they should be. And whilst you’re so proud mommy and daddy (and aunts and uncles and grannies and grandpas) please allow me to share with you some of the things I have learned the hard way as I sent my third child off to Grade 3 (my first Grade 3 experience was 15 years ago!) I’m not saying I know everything. I’m not telling you that I know exactly how to do it. What I can tell you is that I have made many, many mistakes and I want to encourage you to learn from it. This year, please remember: Your child is not ‘yours’. You do not own them, you were entrusted with them. They are not an extension of you – your own little mini-me. No, they are their own person with their own special place in the universe. Don’t take that from them. Your child was given to you as a gift, remember to treat them as such. Your child WILL make mistakes and your child WILL disappoint you. Make provision for that in your heart so long. Your child will need your love and forgiveness this year. Give it to them in abundance. Forgive them. And then forget. (It’s not like grown ups are perfect hey?) Your child will make choices that you don’t agree with or don’t approve of. Talk to them about it. Communicate – even when it’s uncomfortable or uneasy or difficult to do so. Even when you (or your child) don’t feel like it. It’s the only way to find out what is really going on in their minds and lives. Get to know their friends and make sure you have their numbers (and their parents’ too!) Your child will get hurt, be sad, be depressed and will maybe want to give up. That’s ok. What’s not ok is for them to feel this way and for you not to know, or not to do anything about it if you do. Again, communicate, engage, interact, be interested in their hobbies, their friends, their hearts. Your child will compete and lose. Remember to teach them to be gracious and respectful in defeat. And teach them that giving up is not an option. Ever. Your child might win and might be praised in the year to come. Teach them grace in their victory. There is nothing as sad as a boastful, arrogant child. Teach them to never forget where they are from. Teach them that humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life. Your child will compare themselves with others. Don’t let them. Make sure that you tell them every single day that they are special, unique and one of a kind and that no one in the whole wide world can ever be them. And they are not special because of the things they do. They are special because of who they are. Don’t let them confuse the two. Your child will get rejected in some way this year. Prepare them for this. Remind them that they are rooted in Someone much bigger than any rejection. Remind them that they matter. Remind them that every time they might feel they are being rejected from something good, they are actually being redirected to something infinitely better. Remind them that with every rejection there is an opportunity for growth. Your child will be wrong this year. Teach them to admit when they were wrong – whether it’s a friend, a teacher or a sibling. Teach them to apologize and mean it. Teach them that true humility is true victory. Your child will experience great joy this year. Tell them that nothing satisfies you more than seeing them happy. And tell them that their joy will multiply if they are joyful with a thankful heart. Most important of all, remind your child over and over again that you love them and that there is NOTHING that can happen this year, that can ever change that. May you all g(r)o(w) well this year.
This piece was first pubished on my Facebook page on 17 January 2019.