Your Kids Say Nothing About You

It’s natural to tie your identity to things your kids do. To think they are a mirrored reflection of you. To believe their successes and failures say something about you. But you have to resist this.

The philosopher Stilpo of Megara had a daughter who had a bad reputation. We don’t know what for, but someone once tried to shame him because of it. His reply is worthy of sharing: “She is not more a disgrace to me than I am an honour to her.” This might seem like a detached or un-parently thing to say. In fact, it’s the healthiest and most respectful approach for a parent to have.

Your kids are their own people. If they succeed and go to a great college and make a lot of money, that’s because they worked hard and got there. It doesn’t really say anything about you. If they mess up, it’s because they messed up. It doesn’t say you’re a bad parent. Because that’s not fair to you…or to them. Let a mistake be a mistake, nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, of course, our job is to care for them, love them, provide for them, and teach them the right lessons. But don’t associate what they do, what they wear, whether they’re the cool kid at school or a little awkward, with yourself. Being a parent is part of your identity, it has to be, but you must avoid identifying your kids’ success or lack of success with yourself. As we’ve said, let them be their own people. Love them the same, always, no matter what happens or how things go.

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