My kids and I like to jam to music in the car. Hard.
I’m talking about an 80’s rock band in a football stadium with jets flying overhead kind of hard. A singing Purple Rain in the rain kind of hard. We have a ton of fun doing it too.
We also get lots of stares from people in the cars next to us.
Well, I say “we,” but its really just me!
You see, I’m over six feet tall, so I stick out like a sore thumb…bobbing my head, waving my arms, and doing the hand jive.
But the kids?
Well, they’re pretty small. So no one can really see them…No one knows I’m not alone. But they’re there. I promise! And they’re jamming out just as much as I am. Really!
But people just see a grown man who looks a little too excited to be driving a minivan. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen folks lock their doors as they try to avoid making eye contact with me.
Even when I don’t actually see anyone, I can feel them starring at me like I just ate the last cupcake at a kids birthday party.
You know, I think growing up is a lot like driving a minivan while jamming to music.
We start out being ourselves, but people stare. So we stop singing. We put our arms down, look straight ahead, and just keep moving.
After that, there’s a dance inside of us dying to get out, but we won’t let it. We’re too worried about what someone else might think.
As a result of that worry, we struggle with identity and fitting in. I see it happening to my kids already. It’s heartbreaking to watch them pretending not to be who they are.
All kids go through it though. That’s why parents are always telling children to “Be yourself.”
Even though we say that, most of us adults hide who we really are.
We’re too worried about who might be watching.
If I want my kids to be themselves, though, I have to go first.
I have to be willing to sing and dance even when people are watching. Because it’s fun. Because I like doing it. Because it’s me.
You know, kids notice everything. If you act differently around different people they’ll notice, and they’ll call you out on it too.
The truth is, I constantly fight the urge to hide who I am.
But as a parent, I’ve realized that if I act one way at home and another way around friends, I’m teaching my kids that being yourself is not okay. I’m teaching them to hide.
I don’t want my kids to hide.
Because they’re amazing.
Because they were fearfully and wonderfully made.
Because they are just the way they are for a purpose.
Sure, people are going to point and stare at them one day. People are going to tell them to dress like this and talk like that.
And they are going to be tempted to put their arms down, look straight ahead, and just keep moving.
But I want them to know they don’t have to.
I want them to know it’s okay to keep on dancing.
I'd like to hear from you! How do you encourage your kids to be themselves? You can leave a comment by clicking here.