Taking the Downside Out of Determination

Never give up

The other day when Katharine was working on a puzzle she leaned over to me and said, “Mom, this is a hard one.” She continued to stay determined to accomplish the puzzle as a good Stock/Snavely would. A few minutes later…”Mom, we never give up do we?”  Proud mommy moment.  She knew it was hard, but was willing to put the effort in to learn and accomplish what she set out to do.  Jon and I pride ourselves in building a life based on working hard and not giving up on our goals.  This moment of hearing her echo our behavior in her words helped me to appreciate how early we either learn or don’t learn this in our lives.

Then, I start to freak out.  Am I being too ambitious as a parent?  All I want to do is to teach our kids that they are in control of their lives.  I hope for their ability to be determined, positive and committed to what they want in their lives.  I hope that they can solve the problems that they encounter.  I also want them to know that trying is all we ask of them, not necessarily succeeding and delivering a perfect outcome.

As I reflect on what made me a “never give up” person, I do worry about the downside of being determined.  Much of my determination came from a desire to be perfect.  This desire to be perfect, whether it was because I wanted to please others or just for myself, often times turned my determination into stress.  Today, this drive for perfection has diminished a great deal – mostly due to the fact that I know it isn’t possible.  That said, the perfectionist behavior rears its ugly head frequently.  When it does, I generally try to turn the perfectionist behavior into the problem and work to channel my “never give up” skills into solving that problem.

So, although I am proud of what Katharine (and Matthew) are learning, I certainly hope their journey as determined kiddos and ultimately adults is also met with an acceptance and enjoyment of the moments in which they live.  For them to learn this, Jon and I have to show them it is possible.  Whether it be taking a random afternoon nap, having an evening dance party together, playing hooky from school every so often, or just reading a book on a snowy weekend morning, I am going to teach them through how I live how having the determination to meet your goals and living in the moment are not opposites of each other.

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