Have you ever been around people who are constantly bragging about their family? They just won’t stop telling you about their kid who’s on the honor roll or varsity team when they’re only a freshman. As a listener, it can sometimes start to feel like they keep adding things to the list until all you hear is, “He’s this! He’s that!” Or “She’s this! She’s that!” It gets repetitive pretty quickly, doesn’t it? Now, I hope you take this in the spirit I’m sharing it in because I don’t have an issue with celebrating our kids and families. Enjoying our children’s success is a really healthy thing. But we’ve all seen people get a little too carried away with it.
What I’m highlighting and what I want to ask all of us to keep in mind is to make sure that we don’t spend too much time trying to brag about ourselves or our families. Excessive bragging only does one thing: show our insecurities. Spending an excessive amount of time hyping ourselves or our families up communicates that we’re trying to gain the approval of other people instead of being confident in who we are. Confident people might be number one on the honor roll. They might be number ten. Or they might be number fifty. But they’ve learned to find their value and security in something deeper than their in-the-moment achievements.
If you find your self-worth in what you achieve, then you will have really high highs and really low lows. Your confidence and security will be tied up in your class rank, or your quarterly sales or in how good of a job you’re doing at getting the kids to look perfect as they head out the door for school. Those things come and go. Class rank and jobs don’t last forever. Perfect hair and outfits get “ruined” once they’ve experienced a little bit of “daily use” by kids.
Because of that, my advice is to find security in who you are as a person and work to teach your kids that same lesson. That way, no matter what you’re going through, you’ll still be confident and setting an example that others can follow. Not all of us could earn straight A’s in school, and not all of our children will attain that either. If we can learn to celebrate our strengths instead of agonizing over our weaknesses, we’ll be in a much better place to help our kids to do the same. Obviously, there is nuance to this idea, and I’m certainly not intending to give anybody an excuse to stop working to improve or permission to write some things off as a complete loss if they don’t come naturally to us.
But I want to encourage everybody to stop with the comparison game. All it does is leave each of us, and each of our kids and grandkids, feeling inadequate. The reality is that we will be really good at some things and really bad at other things. That shouldn’t be surprising to any of us, and it also shouldn’t be a source of shame or insecurity for any of us. We can work on our weaknesses without turning them into things that define us and constantly leave us feeling like we’re inadequate. When we stop comparing and start having confidence in our own strengths and who we are, we’ll be winning more often at home.