Stop Listening To The Perfect Parents Of Perfect Kids

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My son’s Apgar score was kind of low.

An Apgar score, in case you’re wondering, is the test given to a child as soon as he is born in order to evaluate his health. Ten is the highest score possible. If your child gets that, he’s destined to either grow up to cure cancer or to be the bad guy in every 1980s romantic comedy ever made.

I can’t remember exactly but I think that my son scored somewhere around a negative 13. If your child scores a negative 13 on his Apgar, he’s destined to one day drive a car with a War Eagle bumper sticker on the back of it. That is to say, his future isn’t too bright.

My son was born with one difficulty after another and spent the first moments of his life hooked up to wires, suction cups and other medical devices that doctors and nurses use on sick kids. A few days after he was born all sorts of people were asking me about him. They were the usual questions. Are you getting any sleep? How is he eating? Have you made him wear the Dale Earnhardt Jr. onesie that I gave you at the baby shower?

But there was one question that caught me off guard.

What was his Apgar score?

After I gave my answer, the questioner looked at me as if she was surprised that he was even alive and then told me about some of the problems that he could have. As you might imagine, I didn’t walk away from that conversation feeling very encouraged.

About a year later my son was in his stroller while my wife was talking to another mom. The other mom seemed concerned about my boy. You see, he wasn’t talking in complete sentences yet. And, of course, her daughter was. Oh, and those sentences were in both Latin and English. And I think that the little girl was only two weeks old and had already been accepted to Harvard. The other mom suggested that my wife teach sign language to our son to help him catch up. Again, that wasn’t a very encouraging conversation for my wife.

My son is nine years old now. A few days ago we went for a half mile run. I couldn’t catch him. He can speak 4,000 words a minute. When he has math homework, I can’t help him with it because my brain shuts down when letters, decimal points, fractions and, well, numbers start getting involved. Perhaps that says more about my Apgar score than my son’s but you get the point.

He’s doing just fine.

One day, if God wills, my son will interview for a job. The man on the other side of the desk will not ask for my son’s Apgar score. And he won’t ask if he knew how to use full Latin sentences before his second birthday. More importantly, my son will one day stand before God to give an account for his life. Apgar scores and Latin accomplishments won’t come up then either.

But some parents like to act as if all that will matter. They brag continuously about the accomplishments of their kids in a way that seems to demean you for allowing your kid to actually be a kid rather than a full grown adult in a toddler’s body. Stop listening to these people.

For the most part, things even out. I’ve seen a lot of tiny athletic and academic freaks of nature who never quite live up to the unrealistic standards that their parents had for them.

Remember this, perfect parents of perfect kids do not exist. To put it another way, anyone who tries to come across to you as the perfect parent of a perfect kid is lying to you. They are simply covering up their common flaws with accomplishments that just don’t matter all that much. So stop listening to them.

When my wife was still carrying our son, she went to work one day despite not feeling all that great. Her friends were all coming up to her and saying that today could be the day that she gives birth, even though the actual delivery date was still a few weeks away. They were all excited and happy. And then came an expert to rain on the parade.

“You’re nowhere close to having a baby. I can tell by the way that you’re carrying.”

My wife went into labor that night.

Beware of those parents who know it all, have seen it all and who have it all together. They will beat you down. They will discourage you. And they will lie to you. Stop listening to them.

Instead, listen to the people who love you enough to share their parenting fears, failures, victories, imperfections and words of wisdom with you. And if you know any young or soon to be parents, be that kind of a friend for them.

There is no shortage of parenting experts.

But what most parents could really use is a friend.

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