Appreciating your own kids

2009 October 18
by Evan Lenz

Two cute kids

Do you appreciate your own kids?

Sometimes it’s easier to see and value the spark of life you see in other people’s kids more than in your own.

Let me put this into perspective. I totally love my kids and enjoy them so much. I cherish each of their individual differences and unique qualities. But there’s this 1–2% of the time where I notice some pretty unattractive thoughts going through my mind. For example, I might get annoyed by a behavior or mannerism I see in my kids purely because it reminds me so much of myself, whereas no one else would find it annoying. Or, in a different mood, I might question certain aspects of my son’s sense of humor because they differ from my own sense of humor. The kid can’t win! I’m either annoyed at him for being like me, or put off by the ways he’s different!

I’m sure it’s not healthy to have my identity wrapped up in my kids, even just a little bit. But I have to acknowledge that it is—just that little bit. That’s got to be the best way to overcome it. Let it be. Notice it. And then choose differently. Choose to let him be his own person. And me mine.

I have a neighbor named David. He has told me repeatedly how much he enjoys hanging around, watching, and being with my kids. I’ve always taken it graciously. Saying “Thank you” to a person who’s complimenting someone else (my kids) but talking to me feels a bit weird, but I’ve come to accept it as a matter of courtesy, especially when it’s a stranger who might be expecting me to take it as a compliment.

But David’s repeated kind words about my kids has worked on me in a way I didn’t foresee. And now I do want to sincerely say “Thank you” to him. It has nothing to do with patting myself on the back for being a good parent. It has everything to do with seeing a glimpse of my son for who he is, or at least, as someone else who’s not his parent sees him to be. In some small way, he gave me fresh eyes for my own kids.

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