A few years ago my oldest son Michael came home from school with a story about what happened that day. He had mistakenly forgot to bring one of his homework assignments to school and his teacher responded by saying, “Oh, your mom is going to be so upset with you!” Michael went on to share that he said, “No, she’s not. My mom only cares if I do my best!” (Fortunately, that is what he thought in his head. He didn’t actually say it to his teacher in reality.) He was right. My “mantra” is “Do it best by doing YOUR best.” Since both of my sons are high achievers academically, teachers and other parents tend to think that I am hard on them when it comes to school. They are wrong. Early on in their lives, I deliberately decided not to try to live vicariously though my kids and to disconnect from their various results. Rather, we focus on the effort. That is more important because it’s a character issue, not a talent one.
There are a couple of questions that have especially helped me in parenting my sons so far. The first one was asking “What do you think?” before answering their questions. I started using that question with the boys a few years ago because I had started noticing that they wanted me to think for them in situations that they were more than capable of figuring out for themselves. I want to raise them to have opinions and to think for themselves. I really don’t want them to be the type of people who have to be told every single thing that they need to think or do. I want them to think for themselves and to be humble enough to ask then when they really have questions about things!
The second question that I have been asking this past year has been “Did you do your best?”. I recently shared at my church’s midweek service that one of my favorite women in the Bible is the woman from Bethany who poured perfume on Jesus’ head in Mark 14. I love how Jesus praises her by saying, “She did what she could.” For me, doing your best = doing what you can. It’s different for every single person because everyone has different talents and abilities. That is why it’s so important not to compare our kids to others (especially their siblings). The great thing though is that when we teach our kids to be honest with themselves, they know if they are doing their best in the various areas of life.
The question “Did you do your best?” has been working well so far for my family. What are some of the questions that have been helpful for you in raising your kids?