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Our children are undergoing massive amounts of stress and pressure, unlike ever before. Younger and younger kids are being signed up for sports and extracurriculars. And gone are the days of pure recreation replaced by “advanced levels” – club sports, personal trainings, elite dance academies and much more. Then the academic rigor is amplified with language immersion, extra tutoring, honors, advanced placement, international baccalaureate and beyond. The cultural pressure for our children to be THE best is unreal. All of this is likely a great contributor to  why levels of teenage depression and anxiety are at an all-time high.  What if we stopped pushing our kids to be THE best? What if we “settled” for them being THEIR best? Are you ready to tell your child, “All I want, sweetie, is for you to be YOUR best?”

This all sounds fine and well, but where do you begin? Especially if you are already so deeply entrenched in all the extra bells and whistles of academia, athletics, extracurriculars, church and more. Start by talking to your child. Seriously, set aside an intentional time to sit down with your child and hear his/her heart. No distractions. Convey to your child that you have no preconceived opinions or expectations. Simply engage in a conversation to learn about your child. How are they feeling about their use of time and energy? What are they passionate about? Would they change anything they are or are not doing? You might be surprised by what your child says. Again, receive it all with an open-heart, open-mind and open calendar.

Then you might just have to make that tough parenting decision to say, “NO!” to something. Ideally, it is not a “NO!” to your child and his/her needs for focused time and attention. Rather, what do you need to say, “NO!” to in your investment of time and money in order to say, “YES!” to investing in the overall health and well-being of your child? There is no greater investment. Help your child to be HIS/HER best over THE best.

The “settling” for your best also applies to YOU as a parent. Stop looking at Pinterest. I mean, you can definitely still get some great ideas and inspiration. But stop using it as a point of comparison where you fail to live up to the decadently designed desserts or the meticulous mom crafts. It’s not about being THE best, be YOUR best. Stop comparing to the idyllic images plastered on social media of others’ families, vacations, fun and fairy-tale like stories. Yes, still post to and use social media, within reason. But always check your heart to know what or why you are posting. Be YOUR best.

Liza Gant
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