A crazy, wonderful thing
Are our kids the sum of their parents’ abilities? Marlon thinks his daughters are all that and more.
(Robyn Abrahams)
Do you remember the first time you fell in love? That overwhelming, inexplicable sense of euphoria which assaults your senses at the mere thought of your partner. Well, those of you who have kids, and those of you who will have kids in the future will experience the same kind of blind love and admiration for your offspring. It’s a crazy wonderful thing really.

You just think that your kids are honestly and utterly the most beautiful specimens ever born, the brightest, the cutest, you name it, they’re the best. And so it should be! Well some of us get lucky when some of it turns out to be true. Both my daughters appear well on their way to becoming rocket scientists and have received exceptional school reports consistently. It really is an incredible feeling seeing the seeds of your loins showing so much promise at such an early age.

The point is not to brag or gloat about it. I just believe that any kid is capable of doing well at anything. The critical thing is the support and encouragement they receive. I wasn’t particularly good at school, in fact I really hated it. But my mother kept telling everyone I was “brilliant”, so I believed her. It was only when I finished high school and went on to study journalism that I excelled because I was doing something I enjoyed.

I’ve told Hannah since the time she could understand it, that she is amazing and very clever and all the beautiful superlatives that go with cultivating confidence. She, now, at age 8, firmly believes that there is nothing she can’t do. And it really shows at school. Maddison, age 3, got her first report this year, and it was a glowing reflection of her capabilities. When I went to see the teacher about it, she had nothing but high praise for Maddi.

The next time I saw Maddi, we were driving home from school and she was sitting in the back seat. I started telling her how well she was doing at school and went on to explain the different categories she excelled in and what it meant. I talk to my kids like I would to an adult, using the same language, as I find that they can process goo goo ga ga just as well as using the word “actually” in its proper context (Maddison at age 2-and-a-half).

Anyway she sat there listening to me very quietly as if processing everything I was saying. I ended by telling her how insanely proud I was of her. She smiled broadly and gave a knowing little giggle. And I got the feeling that she comprehended everything I had just said and was herself experiencing pride at her achievement.

Of course this praise has to be tempered with humility and diplomacy, or they’d both turn into little arrogant monsters. And I mention this because herein again lies the key. We as parents are looked upon by our kids as gods, literally. They think we are the bomb!

Teachers and other figures of authority come next. So anything we say to them, good or bad, is what they will believe and take to heart. The responsibility we have is scary and awesome at the same time. I believe that in the final analysis, what you pass on to your kids has to be present in your personality already, and I hope its all good!

How did your kids do this year? What role should parents play in their kids’ achievements?

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