They’re Your Kids, Not You. Set Your Kids Up For Success at an Early Age

Both of my kids finished up their school year recently.  They “graduated” from 5th grade and from 4K.  I used to be the guy who thought these minor graduations were silly, but now I realize how great it is to celebrate and reflect on what your kids have accomplished.  It’s also a good time to review the lessons learned about your kids.  My biggest lesson learned this year is that they are my kids, but they aren’t me.


Baby copying her mother.

Growing up, I was always good at everything I did.  I was an honors student in advanced classes throughout my education.  I was good at all of the sports I played, soccer, football, tennis, swimming, ping pong, etc.  It all came naturally to me.  I never had to work very hard to achieve good grades or to be a starter in sports.  I quickly learned the concepts being taught, so I never had to put in extra time at anything I did.

My biggest weakness was my social skills.  While I got along with different groups and could bridge the gap between the jocks and the geeks, I was never very good at meeting people.  I needed them to get to know me in order to build a relationship.  I was pretty clueless when it came to girls and never asked any out on dates.  They had to pursue me in order for most of my relationships to begin.

My daughter is almost the complete opposite of me.  She has struggled in school and has to work extra time in order to be a “B” student.  She has a hard time bringing home what she has learned and putting it to use in homework.  We spend a lot of time re-learning what she was taught just to get through homework and then doing the same in order to prepare for tests and quizzes.

Throughout her elementary career, there were many times I would get overly frustrated with her.  Because it all came easy to me, I had a hard time understanding why she couldn’t get it.  Most importantly, I had a hard time teaching her how to get it.  My concern was that she would not succeed in life if she was unable to excel in school.

What I didn’t realize was that she was excelling in school.  Not as much as I would like academically, but she was excelling socially.  Her teachers have always expressed how great she was with the other kids.  They never worried about putting her in a group because she could get to know and interact in most any situation.  She has a great skill that comes naturally to her and one that I struggle with.

It only took five and a half years, but I finally realized my daughter was gifted and would be fine in life.  She’ll have to work hard to get the grades she wants, but she’ll never have to work hard to feel comfortable in any social situation.  Looking back, I think her gift is stronger than any I had growing up in “gifted” classes.  Like my wife who is great with people, my daughter will never have a problem getting a job.  She will do great in the interview process and always have a chance to prove herself in a working environment.  I failed on so many interviews, that I ended up buying into a company in order to have a job.

She will always be exposed and granted opportunities because she is not too shy to ask or afraid to talk to others.  She’s gifted in a skill that will get her whatever she wants as long as I help nurture it.  That’s what I’ve come to realize.  She’s not me, but she’s got a better life skill set than I ever had and she will do great.  It’s my job to help her grow that skill set, not force her to be good in math.

Identify what your kids are great at and boost that skill.  It’s hard to use the word “passion” for a child, but their passion and mission in life will come from what they’re great at.  Don’t expect them to be an accountant because it’s the family business.  If they’re not good at math, then you’re doing them a disservice as well as the family business.  They are your kids, not you.  Nurture they’re God given talents and expose them to experiences to help them grow the skill set.  If you can do this, you’ll set your kids up for a life time of success.

Please share this article to anyone it might help and feel free to post your thoughts and experiences with your kids or life growing up.