Have you ever watched your kids doing something and thinking … Oh my, is THAT normal? Shoot, I catch myself doing things all the time wondering, is this normal?
I think we live in a society that craves the normal, expects the normal, and defines what is normal.
Sooo, what is normal? Normal is conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. The definition alone, puts a ton of pressure on all of us, especially our kids to act, think, play, and perform to fit into the definition of normal.
Growing up, I was constantly bombarded with the belief system that I needed to be normal. I learned early on going to school and watching my peers that normal is safe, normal is living in-a-box, normal is respected, acceptable, and rewarded.
But, what happens when we don’t feel normal? What happens when our kids grow up feeling they are far from normal.
Well, I’ve come to the understanding (and conclusion) that normal is totally and completely impossible. Normal is impossible to achieve. Normal feels like a make-believe word we use primarily to make ourselves feel normal. Normal is not really real.
You can’t live normal and live out a God-adventure.
I will never forget the first time my son, Michael played soccer on the YMCA team. He looked like a normal kindergarten soccer player. He wore the same shin guards, matching team shirt, and black and white cleats, just like every other “normal” soccer kid looked like. The game started and Michael ran after the soccer ball just like all the other kids ran, but was quickly distracted. Instead of focusing on the normal game plan, he was more interested in watching the referees and coaches and their whistles. I could tell right off, he didn’t really care much about being the highest scorer on the team, but he had higher dreams of blowing the whistle and being in charge of the game. He didn’t care about being the team star, he wanted to be in charge of all the other players and call the shots! My 6-year-old son, wanted to do the extraordinary!
That was the season we bought him his first coaching whistle. I look back now and LOVE telling that story. It would be normal to want your kids to strive to be the best on the team, but sometimes being the best doesn’t really look normal. Normal for us was the opposite of normal. Michael is 20 years old now, and lives life to the fullest. He is kind, generous, talented, loving, hilarious, thoughtful and completely opposite of normal. We can’t imagine him any other way!
Have your ever dreamed, prayed, and desired for these normal qualities in your child?
- dime a dozen
I don’t know about you, but I want to teach my three super-kids to NOT be normal. I want them to look at life and tackle it in the opposite way of normal. Our family has lived a very un-normal life the past 6 years. Oh yes, there was a time all I wanted was to live a normal, easy, convenient life, but that all changed when we said yes to the unconventional and started living our God-adventure. We took that “normal list” and did just the opposite. I can’t imagine living life [now] any other way. Life is meant to be lived out-of-the-box.
Here are 3 ways to teach your kids to live the opposite of normal:
- I love you just the way you are. This is something we can say over and over and over again to our children. It will never get old. We can help establish a firm belief system in our children that they are enough. We can show them that there’s nothing they can do to change our love by our actions, not just our words. When they go to the beat of their own drums, we can dance along and cheer and celebrate beating our own drums, too! We can be a family that loves unconditionally, even when we mess up. Love never fails. Love never judges. Love never gives up.
- Accept the growing pains. Growing up is never easy. We can hold their hands and give them a sense of balance when it’s bumpy. It’s normal to set expectations, but when things don’t go exactly as planned, this is the best opportunity to embrace the re-direction. We can help navigate their thinking, to break the mold, and look at pain as something positive. Life is hard. We can’t protect them from ever being hurt and learning life lessons the hard way, but we can accept them for who they are. The greatest gift we can give our children is showing them that God turns everything good, bad, and crazy into a treasure. We can’t grow unless we experience pain.
- Live the extraordinary. Parenting is a journey. If we want to show them how to live the opposite of normal, we have to be willing to push the limits in our own lives. We need to be honest. We need to be compassionate. We need to treat each other like human beings. This will look different for every family. There is no normal. God sets us in motion and it’s up to us to move forward. Our kids will watch us make (tons) of mistakes along the way, but it will be the commitment that will never waver. It’s being willing to reveal the brokenness inside our hearts and the courage to change the course of our ordinary lives, our messes into something extraordinary for His glory. For to live the extraordinary, we need to love extravagantly.
Here’s a great little short film to show your kids about accepting others exactly who they are and being different is the best kind of normal.