Am I Challenging My Kids Enough?

challenging our kids

When I was a senior in high school, I got into trouble. I was a model student up until that point, but something changed that year.

School was no longer a challenge.

I already had my college plans and the remainder of my classes were just to keep me busy. My high school self didn’t need computer class or environmental science. Life got boring. I started skipping classes. My grades suffered. Thankfully, my college plans were set and my change of behavior didn’t have a lasting impact on my future. But, I wonder if that year would have been different if I had been challenged more. What opportunities did I miss out on because I turned in to a big ole’ fashioned slacker?

One of my biggest fears as a parent is that I won’t give my children the tools they need to live up to their fullest potential. What if one of my kids has it in him to be an amazing piano player, but he never takes a piano lesson? Or, what if he is made to be an accountant, but I steer him towards sciences?

How do I know I am giving them the push they need to be the best version of themselves?

And then, what happens if I go all tiger mom on them and push them to their limits? There is a fine line between pushing and pushing too much. I don’t want to be so obsessed with challenging them that I am continually giving them unattainable goals and they start believing they never do anything right. I want to teach my kids the importance of always doing their best, but I need to be proud of them when their best is just okay compared to someone else. Also, I should never compare.

Probably most importantly, I want my children to grow up to be happy people. They should feel free to follow their passions, whatever they may be. I want to be sure I help them find what those passions are. They should feel motivated to reach for the stars and set high goals. 

But again, I want to make sure I’m not pushing too much. Life should be fun, too.

Thinking back on my final year of high school, I have nothing but fond memories. Sure, I didn’t do anything really impressive and got into more trouble than I ever had, but I had a fun year. Maybe I needed that break before jumping into the craziness that was college. Will I be able to recognize when my kids need a break?

My boys aren’t even school-aged yet. Maybe this is a bit of me putting the cart before the horse. It seems like every day, my three-year-old has a new obsession. As they get older, I hope it gets easier to know if they are stretching themselves enough to be challenged. I hope they are busy enough to stay out of trouble. But not stressed to the point of a nervous breakdown.

I read a quote somewhere that said, “The very fact that you’re worried about being a good parent means you already are one.” Lord knows I worry about almost everything when it comes to my babes. Since I am so conscious of this, I wonder if it’s one of those things that falls into place, just like so many other parenting hurdles.

At the end of the day, I believe the true measure of whether I did a good job as a parent is not how successful my kids are, but that they are nice people. If I raise two boys who treat everyone as they want to be treated, I’ll be one proud momma.

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