Our society focuses on struggling to be exceptional over the joy of embracing exactly who we are. Here's why raising an average child is awesome.
After two long months of preparing for rehearsal try-outs for the role of the Scarecrow in the upcoming school play, The Wizard of Oz, my 14-year-old daughter learned her fate. She would not scamper down the yellow brick road alongside Dorothy in her dream role as the Scarecrow. Instead, she’d be part of the ensemble cast as one of the jitterbug dancers.
Several of her best friends landed lead roles, so I was nervous about how my daughter would react. I was pleasantly surprised when she announced her disappointment at not being chosen for her dream role but still expressed how much fun she thought the dance number would be. Phew!
Society has attached negative connotations to the term 'average.' But the idea that average is bad couldn’t be further from the truth.
As much as my daughter loves performing, her singing and acting talents aren’t cutting edge—they're average. What isn’t average is her outlook on life.
Society has attached negative connotations to the term “average.” But the idea that average is bad couldn’t be further from the truth. As parents, we want our children to reach for the moon and the stars, but what if “middle of the road” is where they're at and it suits them just fine?
If you don’t have a superstar in your midst, no worries. In my experience, being average is better than OK—it's great! There are many positives to being average. Let's take a look at what makes the average child a joy.
Average people are more grateful
Living in a state of gratitude can be one of the most important foundations for living a life of true joy. When we stop and appreciate the little things—sipping ice-cold milk with a cookie, getting tucked in with a warm blanket and a hug on a cold winter’s night, the ability to do a math problem easily even though reading literature can be a struggle—our kids learn the warmth of gratitude.
The goal is not to block out difficulties, but to approach those difficulties from a different perspective.
Living your life with gratitude means choosing to focus your time and attention on what you appreciate. The goal is not to block out difficulties, but to approach those difficulties from a different perspective. Appreciation softens us. It soothes our cluttered minds by connecting us with the ordinary things, great and small, that we might otherwise take for granted.
Sure, my daughter wanted to nail the role of the Scarecrow, but when she didn’t get it, she turned her disappointment into gratitude. What was most important to her was being a part of the play in whatever capacity she was able to contribute.
Average people don’t focus on FOMO
FOMO, or "fear of missing out," means worrying that other people are doing more interesting things than you, have more friends, and are just all-around living a better and cooler life.
But guess what? If your child is OK with not trying to keep up with the Joneses in academics, sports, and winning a popularity contest amongst his peers, he’s already ahead of the class. He’s comfortable in his own skin just being himself.
Being average builds character
Academics are one of the biggest areas our kids struggle with when they try to feel successful. If school is a challenge, your student may have other strengths that offer her a sense of accomplishment. Maybe your daughter's an average math and science student, but she’s a great listener and an empathetic friend.
Regardless of your child's grades, shift the focus to developing qualities such as honesty, resilience, critical thinking, determination, and teamwork.
Try to set practical academic expectations and don’t compare your child to other students. Regardless of their grades, shift the focus to developing qualities such as honesty, resilience, critical thinking, determination, and teamwork, all of which will be important when they enter college or the workforce.
Average kids can rally
One of the most common disappointments children face is feeling like they’re not as good as their peers. Perhaps your son didn’t make the final cut to play on the school soccer team or your daughter didn’t get invited to join the show choir.
Failure can be a blessing in disguise. It serves as motivation for children to practice harder, study longer, or attempt a different approach. In other words, if your child is an “Average Joe,” setbacks can help them learn to rally and improve.
Success isn't always about winning; it's more often about finding another path. Help your child find something they're good at that matches their interests and skills. Or figure out another way to approach the goal that takes advantage of their abilities.
Average kids appreciate the simple things in life
Our society focuses on “the best” and “the extraordinary” to the exclusion of celebrating the simple yet amazing gifts that surround us in everyday life.
High achieving kids spend lots of time immersed in AP studies, striving to perfect their tennis volley or mastering the best lacrosse split dodge of all time. When not engrossed in academics or athletics, many are being groomed to become future CEOs, brain surgeons, or self-made millionaires.
Our society focuses on 'the best' and 'the extraordinary' to the exclusion of celebrating the simple yet amazing gifts that surround us in everyday life.
Stop! Hold on just a minute. Not all kids want or will be super-achievers. Many want to kick back after school and throw a tennis ball to their dog. Some can’t wait to tinker in their garage and cobble together a handmade birdhouse. Others think it’s really cool to hang out with their BFF on a Saturday afternoon daydreaming about what prom will be like. And all of that is perfectly OK.
Average kids know how to stop and smell the roses. They're more apt to live in the moment and enjoy what’s going on in their lives rather than trying so hard to prove their worth. Let's learn to appreciate them.