Recently while switching television channels, I momentarily stumbled upon Wife Swap. I paused to listen while one mom read through the other mom’s letter, and I was startled when I heard her say, “I teach my children it’s okay to be average.” Now, I understand we all have strengths and weaknesses, and everyone is average in some things, but I was left unsettled by her parenting philosophy. Should “average” be enough?
The more I think about this, the more I’m bothered by it. I want to develop a work ethic in my children that causes them to rise above “average.” I hope to instill a growth mindset where they strive to be the best version of themselves, not reduce themselves to “average.” I worry if I send the message that “average” is enough, the bar would be set so low, once they reached it they would stop striving for more. I much prefer to set the expectation that we work hard and continually strive for our personal best, always working to get better. Instead of focusing on comparing themselves to others, focus on comparing themselves to their own individual past performance. Recognize their growth and use that as motivation to push further, not settle because you’ve reached “average.”
As a Special Educator, I realize “average” can be a tall bar to reach for students who struggle, but this conversation is not limited to school skills. We all have character strengths and continually encouraging the development of these strengths will surely support any child in rising above “average.” VIA Character explains “Character Strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave.” These are virtues that are morally-valued across different cultures, such as gratitude, forgiveness, perseverance, and kindness. Despite limitations, everyone has a unique combination of 24 character strengths, and It’s important to identify each individual’s top character strengths so you can continually nurture those top qualities. Studies have shown building strength awareness in children fosters better relationships, helps them improve faster, helps kids reach their full potential, and strengthens their overall well-being.
So, is “average” enough? No! The science is clear, that strength-based parenting yields children who rise above their peers. Parents have the power to nurture the development of above-average children, so discover your (and your children’s) personal Character Strength Profile and ways to nurture your top character strengths, at https://samwellsolutions.com/samwell-life/happiness/