#10 Help your child compete. Even though we recognize the injustice of the beauty, brains, and brawn value system, it is the world our children are growing up in. As parents, I believe we have a responsibility to help our children compete. What do I mean by compete?
If your child’s crooked teeth are a beauty distraction, get them braces. If your child struggles academically, search out some tutoring options. If your child suffers with a severe acne problem, seek medical help. If you son wants to increase his strength, buy him some weights. In short, take action to help your child compete.
Now, two reasonable objections to this approach must be addressed. The first objection is, “By teaching our children to compete are we actually training them to value the world’s system?” and secondly, “All these suggestions cost money and we cannot afford braces, tutoring, etc.” Let me take the second objection first.
What about the money? I realize we all have different financial limitations and I want to be careful not to come across too crass. My encouragement would be to think outside the box as far as you can. For example, do you have some 401K savings money you could use for a serious family need? This goes against traditional financial advice to never touch this kind of money, and we should never be flippant or casual about using retirement funds early. But I am trying to stretch your thinking about the idea that “save, save, save” for retirement has been drilled into our heads when pressing family needs may require “spend”. There is only a short time to meet the needs of your family and then they are grown. Again, not a decision to be made lightly, but worth some thought.
Back now to the first objection about the message we convey to our kids when we help them compete. When one of our children had a severe case of acne, we did not think it appropriate to just say outward beauty is not important so you have to carry this burden knowing the self-conscious feelings of inferiority it caused. Some physical challenges we do have to teach our children to just accept if they can’t be changed. But it is an affirming parent who helps relieve these self-conscious fears whenever possible. I don’t believe this is glamorizing beauty; I believe it is encouraging our children.
We walk a fine line between wanting our children to look their best while saying outward beauty is not all-important. We want our kids to do well in school while saying academic achievement is not our #1 goal. How we accomplish this is a question of balance. Even as we help our children compete, we recognize these efforts are secondary to instructing them in the things that matter most; love, kindness, integrity, loyalty, honesty, and devotion to God.