being and doing

Phantom and Becca did excellent work recapping and adding their personal spins to the New York magazine article about the "perils of praise". 

I thought I had a lot to say on the matter and then I realized that I don’t.  What it boils down to for me is this: the thing I most want to communicate to my children, what I hope above all else they remember about me, is that I love them for being.  Not for being smart. Not for being talented.  Not for being funny.  Not even for being kind, compassionate or generous.  Just for being.

That said, it is also my job to let them know that, for pretty much everybody else on the planet, what will be important will not necessarily be the gift of their showing up, or their innate talents (or their deficits that matter) but what they do with what they have been given.  As much as I love them for being, others are going to be really interested in what they are doing.  Not only that, but their own senses of self will rest, in large part, on what they do in, and with, their time here on earth.

So I work the problem of doing.  I nag at them to get in the habit of challenging themselves, I force-feed them really good articles about how talent is seriously over-rated, I praise the heck out of their efforts. I hope the value of doing sinks in. Really.  But in the end, when I am long gone from this spinning blue planet, if they remember me as someone who loved them for the simple miraculousness of their being, I will rest wherever I am.

4 thoughts on “being and doing

  1. I linked over from your comment on the Breed em and Weep blog about depression. You wrote what I was so desperately trying to say in my previous comment. Great comment, I hope Jen can hear it.

  2. A friend of mine sent me the link, and although the study results were surprising at first blush, they do make intutive sense.
    Your comments are spot on. Someone I know used to always tell her little girl, “You are so beautiful!” I’d cringe every time I heard this.

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