Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Demanding Excellence.

I admit it. I'm a pretty demanding Mom.

But before you start imagining me as a General in the military, hear me out.

As human beings, very few of us are actually self-propelled as adults... even less of us are self-starters and self-motivated as children.

I cringe when I hear horror stories of adults who, as children, were punished for their beds not being made to military code. (I actually know a woman whose mother used to beat her if a quarter couldn't bounce off of her made bed every morning.) I hate to hear about children who actually gave 100%, but 101% was expected and they were crushed in the process.

That's not the kind of excellence I'm talking about.

What I AM talking about is instilling in our little ones (through high school age) that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well. See, in modern parenting, we are too afraid to hurt a child's feelings to make them do whatever they are doing well. We are afraid that by demanding hard work we are somehow squishing them into boxes. COME ON, PEOPLE! They won't rise to a level of success if they don't know where the level is. Period.

Example. Abi is in kindergarten. She has little homework sheets to do most evenings. The other day, I was cooking dinner and I just walked over to the counter where she was sitting and checked up on her progress. She had written VERY sloppily, very half-heartedly, and although the answers were right, the care she took to do her homework was less than satisfactory. I just said to her, "Please erase your work and start over. You are able to turn in work that is much neater than this." Abi rewrote her work, and had a GIANT smile on her face at her finished product.

Example #2. The other day, she came into the office asking me for cereal. No problem. The problem was, she was asking in a whiny baby voice that made my skin crawl. I said, "Abi, please go out and start over with your real voice." She had to try five times. On the fifth time, she was actually laughing at herself and how ridiculous her baby tone had been.

As parents, we have to be aware of what our children are capable of producing and contributing in life. We can't expect a "C" student to turn in "A" papers. However, we can expect "C" papers done with excellence. What child actually loves school work, day after day? (Well, I did, but I'm a freak.) You know what? Demanding excellence in school work is a life tool. The likelihood of them ever using Algebra in real life is slim to none. But they WILL use the skill they REALLY acquired... diligence. Does it really matter if the bed isn't made perfectly? No. But what does matter is that we are teaching our children that whatever their hands find to do, they need to do with all their hearts.

This also applies to extracurricular activities that they join. By allowing a child to drop out of a sport because they don't like it or the coach is unfair, we are teaching our kids that when life gets hard enough, you can quit. (Which we all know we can't.) Reality is, life is FULL of people and situations that bring injustice to our lives. Bailing is failing. Period.

I guess what this all boils down to is that we HAVE to know our kids! How do I know what I can demand from Abi if I don't know what she is capable of giving?

Oh, one more thing. Every morning when I drive Abi to school (and I mean every single morning), here's our conversation.

ME- Abi, can I pray for you?
ABI- Sure, Mom.
ME- Thank you, Lord, that Abi is...
(We chime in together) Smart, safe, healthy, kind, and obedient. Amen.
And then, I say: Abi, you're a winner. You're gonna have a great day! (She ALWAYS smiles on that part.)

One day, when she's wanting to quit, it's my desire that she hears my voice, confessing that over her on a daily basis, and remembers that she's a winner. That she's not a quitter. That she lives in excellence.

Because it's just the nature of the beast that at some point, she'll have to be reminded. She'll want to take the easy way out. We all do. But we don't all choose to take it.


  1. Love it - thank you Jill! I give you permission to tell me if you think I'm dropping the ball!!!! I don't want to be a parent who looks back and says "If only I had..." Here's to smart, safe, healthy, kind and obedient children!!! Or as Leah put it "Pretty on the inside"...

  2. Thank you, Karin!!!! And I so appreciate your heart! Love you.

  3. Thank you for the encouragment to to feel bad for take back our righfull place...being a REAL PARENT!