As parents, we have our children’s best intentions at heart, always. There are some philosophies that have been passed down from generation to generation, among parents. We share them with our children in hopes of building their confidence, teaching them to cope with struggles, overcome their fears, and live healthy and productive lives. We are raising our amazing children to be awesome and happy adults. We rely on many of the classic life theories, but they don’t always tell the whole story. They don’t always teach the whole lesson. Here are 7 sweet, best intentions, common lies parents tell their children.
1. It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose.
This would work much better if it always began with the word, sometimes. That would be true. Of course we don’t want to give our children a complex, tear down their self esteem, or make them feel that if they don’t win, it automatically makes them the loser. The truth is, winning is important in life. Not always, but it matters. It’s good to instill in our children, some desire to win, and a healthy competitive spirit. In the real world, especially as adults, winning becomes an important part of survival. We just have to win sometimes. When we are applying for a job, a promotion, a rental, a home purchase, or chasing a dream, we have to be the winner sometimes. Usually, there is going to be other people going after the thing we want in life. Winning isn’t everything, all the time. It’s still okay to want to win and to try even harder the next time when we don’t.
2. We have plenty of time.
This is one of the biggest struggles for adults. We are constantly trying to balance our sense of urgency to get things done with the patience to wait for things to happen. Life is fleeting. There is a way to teach our children that we don’t have plenty of time without inducing fear. None of us do. So, the real lesson is in learning how to make the most of our time. We have to learn to prioritize, appreciate each moment, and live within it, while still planning for a future and working that plan.
3. You are the best, most _____________.
Here we go! Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we create a complex in our children, and unhealthy expectations. While I’ve made a case for why winning does matter, that doesn’t mean we have to be the best at something or the most of something. If you think about the top 1% of people in sports, arts, income, or whatever category you can think of, that’s a very limited amount of people. The truth is, there is almost always someone who is better at the thing we are good at. Most likely, we are not the best. That doesn’t mean we can’t be just as successful and even more successful than those who are the best at a given thing. I’ll use soccer as an example, since it’s something my own children are passionate about. Both of my older boys are quite aware that there are better players than each of them. Yet, both of them have experienced great successes so far, and each play for Gold Competitive teams. My kids don’t have to be the best juggler, center, defense, etc. If they have heart, dedication, goals, passion, desire, and skills, they quite well may become everything they set out to be.
4. Practice makes perfect.
Perfect is an illusion. I don’t know when parents decided to start telling their children this classic cliche, but it’s simply not true. Practice makes us better. Practice helps us to make less mistakes. Less mistakes are the key to growth and excellence. We will never be perfect, no matter how much we practice. We don’t have to be perfect. We might perform perfectly at a given moment, and practice may be the reason, but practice simply does not make perfect. Luckily, we don’t need to be perfect to be great!
5. I’m the parent. I make the rules.
If you are a parent, you probably grew up hearing this. You probably looked forward to the day when you would make the rules and wouldn’t haven’t to live by anyone else’s. That day never came, right? Sure, we make a few rules, but we don’t make the rules. We have to live by quite a few of them though, and I’m not just talking about laws. Our employers, landlords, home owner’s associations, clubs, and even our favorite restaurants, have rules. If we don’t follow the rules at work, we’re fired. It we don’t follow the rules of our landlord, we are kicked out. If we don’t follow the rules of our home-owner’s associated, we are fined, forced to take corrective action, and maybe even sued. There are rules and regulations to use a coupon, buy a car, play a game, and park our car. If a restaurant requires a reservation, we won’t be served unless we have one. Life is full of rules. Many of those rules even cost us our hard earned money and limited time. If we call a utility company to add a service, they may give us a window from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and we just have to be available. Sure, we can choose not to follow many of the rules in life, but usually the rebellion isn’t worth the consequences of not following the rules we had no say in making. The truth is, as adults, we are subject to way more rules than we ever were when we were children. Sometimes, we should challenge rules, but there are always going to be some we have to live by. Life has rules. As parents, when we make rules for our children, one of the greatest things we are doing is preparing them for life. We are preparing them for the real world, where we don’t make the rules.
6. It will get easier.
This might be the sweetest lie of all. Life doesn’t get easier. It gets different. If we try, along with a little bit of luck, we get better at dealing with things, obstacles, disappointments, loss, and all the things that make life hard. When one aspect of life does feel easier, there is usually another not far down the line that is just as difficult as the last, or even more so! We go from thinking we know everything to feeling like we know nothing. We go from love to heartache, success to failure, and back again. We become more flexible, stronger, wiser, and more patient. We learn skills to cope with and sometimes overcome some of life’s biggest challenges. Yet, there will always be challenges, and they are not necessarily easier than the last. Often, they are even harder. I’m not suggesting that we fill our children with a sense of doom. It’s just important for them to understand that life can be very difficult and still so worth every challenge we face. Life will get different. When the triplets were born, and I was feeding them 48 times per day between breastfeeding and supplementing because of their premature births, there were days where I actually thought I might die at that pace. I might have even contemplated piercing my eyes open. When they went through the year-plus long phase of smearing feces on the wall, I didn’t know if I could make it through another day. Now, I have new challenges. It’s hard to say one was easier than the other. It’s just different. It’s okay to tell our children, “this too shall pass.” I don’t know exactly where that came from, but I imagine it came from a wisdom that life gets different. This thing we are facing now, shall pass. Then, we’ll face something new. The older we get and the more we experience, the more we appreciate our struggles and the lessons we’ve learned from them. That’s wisdom. Even with that wisdom, it often doesn’t get easier, but we are empowered in a way that only comes from living. Even though life doesn’t truly get easier, we can learn to be happier. We can’t always change the world or others, but we can always change our own outlook and reactions.
7. Everyone likes you.
If only this were true! There doesn’t have to be a reason. Sometimes people don’t like someone because they are jealous and sometimes there is no reason at all. It doesn’t mean we’ve done something wrong, aren’t worthy, or need to change something about ourselves. Not everyone is going to like us. That’s okay! It’s also okay to teach our children that we can be wonderful and someone can still fail to recognize that. Especially when it comes to relationships, quality will always be more important than quantity. We need to teach our children that we deserve to be liked for exactly who we are. We don’t need to have relationships with people who only like our strengths and judge our weaknesses. Also, we don’t need to like everyone else. We should treat others with respect as a rule of humanity. Not everyone is our friend. There are going to be people in the world who like what we have and who we know and what we do. They may like our lives. They may even want our lives. That is not the same as liking us for who we are. It is important that our children learn how to differentiate this over time.
I realize that some people may look at this list and immediately reject it because it goes against what many of us have been taught. These are not lessons you just blurt out at your children. They are truths that you continue to teach them over time, according to their respective maturity, receptiveness, and relevance to what they are experiencing in life. Not everyone teaches their children to believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. When we do, we eventually have to tell the truth, as sweet as those lies are. The truth is powerful. As parents, one of our biggest responsibilities is to empower our kids with the life skills that will help them have happy and productive lives.
I believe that these truths will help.
By: Alicia Gonzalez