There are no perfect mothers—I am exhibit A. There are no perfect children—my children are exhibit B. I’m okay with their imperfections, but I have to admit, I wasn’t always so nonchalant about their shortcomings. When they messed up, I was often shocked, distraught, and mortified. No more. Now I accept that there are just mistakes kids make, even good kids. I never say never when it comes to what my kids will or won’t do. A kid you never thought would say that, do that, or think that, very well might.
1. They act completely out of character.
iMOM’s Susan Merrill writes about how her nearly perfect child caught her off guard while she was focused on her “problem” child. Because her no-trouble-at-all kid is quiet, she missed the signs that he was getting off track. When she did realize it, she was heartbroken by his choices, and by the fact that she was so oblivious.
The point is this: good kids often make their mistakes out of the blue. You never see those mistakes coming because they’re so out of character.
2. They act their age.
When you have a good kid, it’s easy to get lulled into thinking they won’t make the same mistakes as their peers. Well, they might. Why? They’re only human. So if your child is in elementary school, be ready for a call from the teacher saying he is acting up in class. In middle school, be prepared for your child to be the perpetrator of mean girl actions or impulsive boy antics. In high school, be on the lookout for vaping, drinking, and sneaking off with friends.
I’m not saying all children will do all that, but we want to have our eyes open in case our children start heading that way so that we can help them stay on track.
3. They give in to peer pressure.
A friend of mine has a son who never had a misstep until he was in high school. He was on a sports trip with his team when some of the older guys smoked marijuana in their hotel room. My friend thought her son would never smoke weed. But he did. When word got out about what happened on the trip, she talked to her son. She didn’t shame him. She listened. He never intended even to try marijuana, but, then again, he had never been pressured by a group of guys he admired and looked up to.
Talk to your good kid about peer pressure. Tell him or her you know it’s not always easy to make good choices when peers apply pressure.
4. They lie.
Susan Merrill has another story about a child of hers who was so focused on doing everything right that she would lie about her mistakes, even when they were minor. Her daughter just couldn’t bear the thought of messing up. Again, good kids need to know that mistakes are a part of life. Tell them there is no shame in failing. Failing is a path to learning and growing.
5. They make bad grades.
Children who strive to be good kids and who see themselves as good kids can be devastated by a bad grade. And I’m not just talking about a bad grade on a report card. It simply could be a bad grade on a quiz or homework. Good kids can put an incredible amount of pressure on themselves. Tell your children you love them no matter their grades. Tell them everyone makes a bad grade once in a while and that they can regroup.
I never want my children to feel like when they fail, they’ve failed me. I want them to accept mistakes as a part of life, and a part of learning.
What mistakes have you seen your good kid make?