on being a Proud Parent

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This post isn’t what it may seem from the title. In fact, I am not sure that any other parent may have had these same thoughts. But just maybe, some of you may relate to my post and I won’t feel like I am alone.

This is the time of year that I love looking at all of the cards and pictures that we receive from friends and family. It is also when many of us post pictures of family events on our facebook page. “Proud Parents” often detail their children’s accomplishments during the past year – sports teams, academic honors, exciting job opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to hear about all of these accomplishments and honors. But sometimes our children who work the hardest and have fewer endowed athletic or mental abilities need to be acknowledged outside of the Christmas card or the facebook post.

Being the parent of 5 children, biologic and adopted, has led me to reflect on innate abilities, personalities, and home life as to what seems to be the most important factor in a child’s life. Realize how I parent now is very different from how I parented 24 years ago when I first started on this journey. Part of this is experience in knowing what matters, part being overwhelmed some days, parenting teenagers and young adults is different than toddlers, and probably the most important factor is the varying personalities and abilities of my children. Here are just a few examples:

1. The ability to stay organized with schoolwork/sports gear. Impossible for one of my kids who does not possess the gene for orderliness and further, didn’t get upset when the sports jersey was at home in the closet as the coach always had extra. The organization gene is present in triplicate for one of my kids, who has packed her own sports bag since age 5 and never missed an assignment.
2. Report card grades. Some of my kids get great grades with a moderate amount of study. Others need extra tutoring and have a higher frustration level and still attain a lower grade.
3. Independence. Although I wanted to be independent from my parents ASAP, this doesn’t seem to be the mentality of the current generation. Still not sure if this is an improvement or not. While I enjoyed visiting with my older son’s friends this weekend, I wasn’t so thrilled when they watched a movie until 2 am.

It is much harder to be a Proud Parent of a disorganized child or a child who works hard in school and can only achieve average grades. I have never seen a facebook post of a Proud Parent when their child’s team loses every game at a tournament or gets straight B’s on their report card. But sometimes these accomplishments may have taken much more effort on the part of the child. Simply participating in a sport can be challenging for kids who shy away from competition. Getting a B on a math test can be incredibly rewarding for a student who puts in extra effort with tutoring and after school help. An introverted student may have a difficult time agreeing to participate in a club activity that requires socializing.

The good news is that 5 different personalities and abilities in my house have made me a much more patient, understanding and overall better person. I was once one of those students to whom everything came easily (academics, not so much sports!) and I was judgemental of others who didn’t seem to try hard enough or didn’t care. Helping a child struggle thru math problems, cleaning their room or being part of the daily social interactions involved with 4 siblings is an example of how personality and ability work together to create an individual. Part of that I have the ability to influence by setting expectations, but beyond that it is my child’s duty to create a life that will make them happy. Being a Proud Parent means I need to be satisfied with their choices and tell them so, even if those choices are different than what I would want for myself.

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