Careful, Momma …

This past Saturday while filming Maya and Daddy playing in the living room, I happened to catch an amazing moment on camera: Maya began walking! Our nearly four-month old peanut took her first (assisted) steps.

As you can see in the video below, she puts one foot in front of the other and holds her adorable self up as best she can. 🙂

To us, it was nothing short of amazing (especially since this child has no interest in rolling over, but has been trying to stand (assisted) for a good two months!).

Now here’s the rub … I didn’t realize it until I watched the video a few times, but at the end, you can hear me excitedly proclaim, “We have a wonder child!”

Granted, this was my initial reaction to my baby girl walking; I don’t REALLY think we have some wonder child.

Maya’s amazing, but she’s only three months old — she’s not exactly solving global economic crises or starring in a Broadway production.

But it got me thinking.

Every parent thinks their kid is amazing, right? Isn’t that part of being a parent, thinking your kid is just the cat’s meow? Or maybe it’s just me.

But there’s a downside to this. You hear all about parents comparing and one-upping each other with details of their children’s successes, which often makes other parents feel inadequate. It’s a fine line to walk because, as a new parent, you’re excited about every milestone, even if it’s “late,” and want to share … and what can come across as sharing to one parent can be bragging to another. I try to keep this in mind, but sometimes forget.

Hence, my “wonder child” comment.

With two head-strong, over-achiever parents, Maya’s no doubt going to have her work cut out for her … which means we’re going to need to be extra-careful to encourage her and build up her self-esteem but not put too much pressure on her, either.

Because let’s be real here. Right now, she is too young to understand it … but as she gets older and does more exciting, amazing things, words like “wonder child” need to be spoken with caution. We want her to grow up and be amazing, sure … but no kid needs to feel pressure to be perfect, ever. That’s not what we want for her. We want her to be the best she can be … but on her own accord.

Clearly, there is a delicate balance out there of doting on/encouraging your children and turning them into Type A perfectionists. I definitely don’t want Maya to fall into the latter category and though it was an innocuous comment I’m blowing up into a bigger deal than it probably need be, this YouTube video was as good a reminder of this as any.

The “how,” I feel, is going to be the most challenging part …

How about you? How do you build your kids’ self-esteem without turning them into perfectionists?


3 thoughts on “Careful, Momma …

  1. As a child of two over-achieving, OCD, though admittedly not perfect parents, I feel so much pressure (and have always) to live up to the impossible standards that my very bright, intelligent, and successful parents/family have set for me and the pressure that I put on myself to be this “wonder child” or the perfect, most incredible child that her parents could be proud of. In my quest for perfection, one HUGE issue I am still struggling with, I developed an eating/exercise disorder, OCD/trichotillomania, an anxiety disorder, low self-esteem, and depression. While there is definitely something to be said for how my parents raised me, this need and thirst to be perfect, for me at least, is so Type A perfectionist and so intense that… it’s almost inexplainable. I feel as if no one, including my parents, friends, and even strangers, will value me if I don’t appear as the perfect, healthy, happy, intelligent, girl. Currently, my self esteem is at an all time low. I search for validation from others and feel as if my parents won’t love me if I am not their perfect child- leading me to put all of my energy into school work, stress, etc. This perfectionist desire is, in my estimation, derived about 50% from pressure which I put on myself, pressure from my parents, and partially an inherited 100% “type A” personality. Coming from this place, a dark place I find myself in now, compelled me to speak out. I am a devout follower of your blog, and your little girl, Maya, is so blessed to have you as her mother. From my perspective, as a teenage girl, it is imperative to raise your daughter’s self esteem and let her know that she truly just needs to do her best, and you will love her unconditionally no matter if she fails to be that perfect person or fails to live up to your or her own expectations. In my opinion, all that matters as a parent is making sure that your child is happy and feels loved. That is the number one thing your child will always need from her Mommy and Daddy. Feeling alone and unloved in the world, as I often do, does not lead one to a happy place.

    PS: congrats on the walking, Maya!

    1. Lola, thank you so much for your words … it really helps to hear another perspective on this topic and I appreciate everything you said–thank you!! We will absolutely love her unconditionally … that’s a given. But it’s good to be reminded of what she’ll really need, which is encouragement but without ridiculously high expectations.I am sure your parents love you very, very much and just maybe didn’t know how to cope with all the pressure they put on you.

      In my case, my parents always encouraged me but never put undue pressure on me to excel — I did it all to myself. I used to punish myself as a toddler–no joke!

  2. Our older daughter (13 1/2) has always been a “perfect” child and still is. It is difficult not to praise her for that, but we really try to stress that doing her best is what we expect, rather than perfection. We try to praise our kids’ efforts, rather than their results. Though we make her take piano, which she doesn’t like, we don’t force her to practice more than the minimum amount, and though we support her in whatever sport she wants to try, we don’t force her to do any of them. She puts a lot of pressure on herself though. Recently she was studying for a test and commented that she’d never before studied, but “only” had a B+ in science, so she figured she’d better study. Her room is always neat and tidy, and she recently cleaned and reorganized the bathroom just because she wanted to. I worry about her seeking outside validation to decide her worth because she’s heard so much about what a great kid she is from us and other adults.

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