Parenting Lesson: Celebrating Your Child’s Individuality

June 2012

by rebecca stewart

The comparison game – we know it’s fruitless, we know we’re not supposed to do it, yet how often do we find ourselves gathering tid-bits about other kids to use as a ruler for our own child? This is a lesson that’s been practically screaming at me these past few weeks. First, it was a reminder while listening to the radio to take time out to just appreciate our children for the special, unique beings they are; to ruminate in the awesomeness that is childhood. From there it was a million little reminders that my daughter might share traits similar to others, but she is uniquely her.

It’s no secret that I’m living in perpetual dread of the big day – the first day of kindergarten – and part of that is wanting my daughter to start off with the strongest possible foundation. Of course I want her to be ready academically, but I also want to have filled her ‘life toolbox’ with the tools that will enable her to be a good friend, a good person…A strong person.

I have watched my beautiful, shy, dramatic, imaginative girl blossom in this past year as she embarked upon her first year in preschool, and it has been incredible. There’s no doubt in my mind that as she moves along to this next stage that she will hold her own, but here I’ve sat recently, shedding many tears in worry for her. In the midst of all the kindergarten readiness checklists, tests, and such it seems I have lost sight of a crucial parenting tool I adopted almost from the very first of her life. Follow her lead.

I’m not talking about being a parenting pushover; no it’s this necessity of allowing her to find her groove, at her pace that has been a crucial piece of what it means to be “Abby’s mom.”

As this one truth washes over me, it occurs to me that this is something that comes directly from my own parents’ playbook. Unquestionably I always knew that they were my biggest fans, but more importantly my best advocates. Without their patient understanding, I don’t know where I would have ended up in school, but because they adjusted to the uniqueness of each of their children, we succeeded.

All wrapped in that big, beautiful bundle of “unconditional love” is patience, understanding, and recognition of our children for who they are and everything that makes them special. So the next time you find yourself walking in these shoes of comparing your children to someone else…Hit your mental pause button, and remember to take the time to celebrate your child’s individuality instead.