When I think of qualities I would like to see in my children, I find myself thinking of empathy, kindness, gentleness, and politeness. Those qualities that cause people to tell you that you're children are so well behaved, so friendly, such a delight. I remember when The Girl was younger, I got these kind of compliments regularly. As she's gotten older I hear those comments less often. She's nearly five now and is developing into a outgoing and headstrong young girl.
Eagerness can also be a wonderful attribute to observe in your children. This past Christmas wouldn't have been half as exciting if The Girl didn't remind me daily of how many more sleeps until Christmas. I want my children to be eager... their eagerness helps feed my own excitement about life.
Outspokenness is a quality that people often regard as rude, but this is not always the case. There are many instances as an adult where being outspoken can be an asset. I've realized that I want my children to speak up. I want them to be bold. They may need direction on how and when to do so, but I don't think being outspoken is a negative quality. If my child's rights are being violated or they see someone else being bullied or hurt, I would certainly want her to be outspoken. I don't want to raise my children to keep things to themselves, to be the person that sees something wrong and walks by.
"I can do it! I don't want your help! Let me do it"
Persistence. This is a quality that often gets under a parent's skin. However, persistence is a beautiful quality to observe in young children. It's persistence that helped The Boy learn to walk up and down the stairs. He was determined to do it and kept trying until he got it right. Sure, the constant up and down drove me crazy at the time, but in the end it was worth it. Persistence is the drive to keep trying when it doesn't work the first time. And really, when does it ever work the first time?
Where would we be if our children didn't have persistence? This quality is the cornerstone of learning and inevitably leads to mastery. Why would we discourage it? I want my children to be persistent. I don't want to teach them that continuing to try is a bad thing. I need to remember that next time The Girl takes 'too long' to get dressed. I can already see instances where The Girl gets frustrated too quickly when something isn't working. I need to be better about helping her continue to work at it, to work through the frustration and keep going.
As parents, we want the best for our children. However, sometimes the "best" may not fit into a neat little box. Take a moment and consider your own child. Are there any qualities that she displays that get under your skin? What is it that you don't like about those qualities? Is it more about you than it is about him (i.e. you're fearful of how others will regard you as parent, if your child is demonstrating those characteristics?). Perhaps as parents, we need to appreciate and support our children as who they are instead of trying to change them.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson