Newly married and in my twenties, I spent the day shopping with a 14-year-old relative at the mall. I let him know that I was on my way to a discount store and to my surprise, he announced he couldn’t be seen there because it would ruin his reputation. My response was simple: I told him there was no way he could have a reputation if he didn’t even have a job.
It was in that moment that I knew that, when the time came for me to have children of my own, I was going to raise them in such a way that designer labels didn’t define them.
The first day of school is worrisome for children and for us as moms. We worry that our children will not be accepted or make friends. What if no one talks to him all day? What if she sits alone during lunch because all the girls in her class have been friends for years and are not willing to let her into their group? We buy the designer backpack and the coordinating clothes hoping this will draw others to our children and they will be liked.
Stop for a minute and examine your own friendships. Think of all the friendships in your life that have lasted. Are they the friendships that were filled with conversations of clothes, shoes, home design, and all the things in life that are material possessions? Or are they the friendships that have grown because of encouragement through trials, times of joy and honesty? These are the friendships I want for my children.
It is difficult to witness the pain your child goes through when he is feeling left out; we sometimes feel like it is our responsibility to help our children be successful in their relationships. By doing this however, we ultimately strip them of the confidence of making friends on their own. Children learn how to make friends by watching how we relate to others and how we connect with those around us.
Social media has added another dimension to the job of parenting. Updates of their child’s success has become a way for some moms to feel like they are doing a great job depending on the amount of “likes” received on a post about their child on social media. It has also become a way for some children to feel inadequate if they lack Facebook friendships and view pictures of events that they were not invited.
If my child is part of the “cool group” he will be put in the position of leaving others out. His friends will question his loyalty and he will never be able to stand on his own. He will always need the reassurance from others and this will continue into adulthood.
When my two oldest boys were ages three and five we signed them up for soccer. We had practice every Tuesday night and returned to the soccer field every Saturday morning for games. We were just doing what we thought we were supposed to do as parents to make sure our children were given the opportunities to experience life like other children and to make sure they were “cool.” Looking back, those years were exhausting and full of busyness. If I had to do it offer again I would have skipped practice and stayed home and watched Saturday morning cartoons. Those days of soccer have nothing to do with their success as young adults. It was their academics and hard work that awarded them with scholarships and the grace of God.