Do we really know our children?

As parents we invest a lot of time and energy into rearing our children and most of them, over time, will thankfully grow up into fully functioning, ‘normal’, human beings. Each of our children are different not only in looks and stature but also in personality, but do we really know them? Did our own parents really know us?photo credit: CB106492 via photopin (license)

I remember while training to be a volunteer with childline we did a night on ‘labels’. The facilitator explained that within every family there are clearly defined boxes which we are put into, often unfairly. There is the moody box, the clown, the whinger, the peacemaker, the trouble maker etc. It is very difficult, within the family, to ever climb out of your appointed box but often outside of home a very different nature is revealed.

Last weekend I was reminded of that lecture. I was at a swimming competition with a group of young swimmers. The majority were aged between ten and eleven. As always they made us coaches more than a little proud, as they dug deep and fought so hard within their races, as well as supporting each other. Their happiness was contagious and I came home on a high, after a very long day.

However it was not the wonderful races which stayed within my mind, but the triumph over adversity I had witnessed. Some of those swimmers had previously had less than perfect days in competition. There had been tears and disappointments and no reward for the hard work that had been put in at 6am. As I remembered those galas I thought about the day just passed and the beaming smiles, as those same children triumphed. And I wondered…

Did their parents have any idea how hard their child had worked over the past few months? Didphoto credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/112990256@N07/16948593772">High key</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a> they know there had been days when they had cried with frustration? Did they know they had listened so attentively and put such trust in their coaches? Did they know how determined they were to improve? Did they know the strength of character their child possessed?

Rest assured myself and fellow coaches will tell the parents of these young swimmers all of this, but I wonder do they already know and if necessary will our word be enough to help find a new more fitting box for their child? For they richly deserve it.

photo credit: High key via photopin (license)

photo credit: CB106492 via photopin (license)

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13 thoughts on “Do we really know our children?

  1. I have four children who might physically look similar but are as different as four people can be. I’ve always found it fascinating that they came out with their own unique personalities right from the beginning. And as they grew, I think I was as surprised as the parents of your little swimmers might be to see just who they’ve grown up to be.

    Wish I could claim the credit but I have to admit they all came out that way.

    1. It’s amazing isn’t it. They are reared alike but turn out so differently.
      I have been surprised on more than one occasion by something a teacher or other friend has said about one of my children.

  2. Congratulations to all of your swimmers Tric!

    When I taught martial arts I was aware that there were children who’s parents were very involved, encouraging and paying attention. And I was aware that many child did not have parents who were aware of anything they did. I was fortunate to work with students and their families who always made sure any child was paid attention to. Encouraged. And applauded.

  3. My two are the same yet different not because they are boy and girl but each are talented in their own way. The oldest my son was always taught to look after his sister and while he does , my daughter is the one who is more responsible looking out for and taking care of him especially when he is down on his luck. You made a good point at the beginning when you asked if our parents really knew us? So many times I was compared to other kids ( iwas the Oldest so my parents were strictest with me) Why can’t you be like or read like or get good grades like? But I was my own unique kid.

  4. My three are all completely different as well, irrespective of special needs, and they have changed over the years: the boxes I might have put them in when they were younger would be completely different now.

    And being a coach (of gymnastics) I’m sure that my eldest daughter would second everything you say here x

  5. i often wonder this myself, after one of my kinders has a challenging or magnificent day in my full day class. spending so much time together, i recognize the nuance and struggles of each child as they try to do the best they can to embrace each day. i often hope their parents recognize how amazing their children are –

    how proud you must be after one of these swim challenges. there is so much work and determination that goes into them, i would probably be crying after each meet –

  6. Tric, I can honestly say that my parents knew me – could read me like a book and were incredibly supportive and empathetic.
    As a parent, I’m not sure that I have mastered/am mastering the art as well as they did. I suspect that will unfold as our son moves beyond his twenties.
    I feel that in the main parents know their kids better than others as they can read their body language which has been there from infancy. That said, a parent may know full well that something is up with a child but it may be their friends or another adult that they divulge the details to.
    It’s a complex relationship, for sure.

    1. I think it took a long time for my family to see the real me too. It’s nice though when it happens and you are appreciated and understood for who you are.

  7. I’m not sure whether or not the parents will know the strength of character their children possess. I think it might be a good thing to mention it to them in any case. If they don’t know, somebody really ought to tell them, and if they do, I’m sure they won’t mind hearing it again.

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