Why I’ll never tell my kids they can be whatever they want to be

I stood in the greeting card aisle scanning graduation cards. Funny, sappy, artsy or simple, they all carried the same pithy sentiments.

Spread your wings and fly.

If you dream it, you can do it.

Now is your time to shine, grad!

Do those words make you feel warm and fuzzy? Or, like me, do your raise your eyebrows?

I’m all for building my children’s confidence. But there’s a big difference between puffing up and pointing up. Here are three popular statements you won’t hear me saying to my kids.

1. You can be anything you want to be.
No, my precious girls, you will be exactly who God designed you to be—beautiful, unique, valued, and loved. He gave you certain gifts and abilities, chosen just for you by a perfect and purposeful God, and if you spend your life discovering and using those gifts wisely then you will be successful in the deepest sense.

Still, always remember that what you do is not who you are. You are a child of God, period (John 1:12). Don’t compare yourself to anybody else, and don’t for a second believe God was sleeping on the job the day your talents were doled out. You are you for a reason.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well,” (Psalm 139:14).

2. Believe in yourself.
Believe first in your God who created you and is capable of doing amazing things through you (Philippians 4:13). Yes, you are powerful, more powerful than you know, because Christ’s power is at work within you.

“He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you,’” (Luke 17:6).

3. You deserve to be happy.
Of course your mother wants you to be happy. But who in this world deserves it, when the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)? Praise the Lord, my darling girls, for grace. Understand that blessings aren’t your right; they’re a gift. And sometimes, although we might not see it at the time, our troubles can be a gift, too.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).

I have twelve years to shop for my own daughter’s graduation card. That should give me enough time to dust off my craft supplies and make one myself. Meanwhile, I’m committed to building my family’s self-esteem on a firm foundation and praying that my girls will love themselves because God loves them first.

And—I’m inserting a couple words into one of those cards I found.

Now is your time to shine YOUR LIGHT, grad!

This post originally appeared on The Better Mom and was republished with permission.


Becky Kopitzke is the author of “The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood” and “Generous Love: Discover the Joy of Living ‘Others First’. Becky lives in lovely northeast Wisconsin with her husband and their two daughters, where her home office is overrun with bouncy balls and tween craft supplies. For weekly, keeping-it-real encouragement, visit Becky at beckykopitzke.com.

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