I am the daughter of a doctor. A doctor who knows his stuff but who is also not afraid to admit that not even doctors have all the answers sometimes. Today, we bring you a guest who, in addition to her medical credentials, is also an honest mom of three boys. Deborah Gilboa, aka Ask Dr. G., works to help parents understand the issues in a non-clinical way by demystifiying medicine and empowering parents.
How can I teach my boys that they are enough? My boundless love has to help. My own self-confidence and messy house should be a great example, don’t you think? Liberal use of phrases like, “Not a big deal” in the face of mild adversity might work.
Many of the inspiring Just.Be.Enough. posts talk about the advantage of passing these lessons on to our kids. This got me thinking: What can I do to instill in my children the certainty that they are enough?
Like any scientist with a question, I did some research. Over the past few weeks since I answered a tweet and asked to write for this amazing group, I’ve been gathering data.
Watching my boys (ages 9, 7, 5 and 3), I’ve noted what stories they tell about themselves. Kept track of which moments puff them up with pride, and what causes lips to tremble or shoulders to slump. Lain with each of them at bedtime and asked some variation of “What’s the best thing about you?”
Here are a smattering of my, and their, observations:
The 9 year old: “I get people. I don’t always like what they do, but I understand why they do it.” Yes, my biggest guy, you were born with this gift. Science class built him up, being corrected in front of friends or classmates made him sad. Then came a big surprise for me. Being study-partnered with the class bully caused him real pride! “He doesn’t want to work with me and I don’t really want to work with him, but I’m the only one who stands up to him, so we get the work done. I like it cause now I see that he’s a jerk just to get power. I don’t have to give him any.” I didn’t teach him that, though I would’ve if I’d known how to explain it.
The 7 year old: “I don’t actually think there is a problem in the whole world I can’t solve.” I asked how he knows and he said, “You and Aba* tell me that all the time. And you don’t try to fix everything.”
The 5 year old: “Oh, well, I’m really pretty funny. And when that doesn’t work, I’m fast.”
The 3 year old: A winning smile, “I’m me.” Can he keep that, please?
So I’ve learned two things from my research into my own children.
Belief in himself is the strongest lesson for each of our boys. My husband and I need the strength to let each one make mistakes and learn lessons and solve problems. I have to demonstrate to each of my sons that I know he is enough now and not only that he will be enough someday.
They came to us knowing they were enough, and now we just have to protect that flame and let it shine. Easier said than done, right? May God grant me the strength and wisdom to do that!
*Aba is Dad.