I used to know someone who used to often say “If everyone’s kid is so special and so smart, how come we have so many idiot adults running around all over the place?” Good for a laugh, but I’ve really been thinking lately about how we put certain ideals onto kids right out of the gate and set the bar unreasonably high. In particular, clothing seems to be catching my eye while wandering through the stores I’d never been to 6 months ago. You ever see things like this written on clothes for kids?

  • Dad’s Favourite
  • Team Captain
  • #1 Fan
  • All-Star Best Ever Quarterback Defenceman
  • #1 at something else that isn’t real because this is just a long shirt with buttons on the crotch

No #1′s Here

So I see all these pressures everywhere for a kid to succeed and just can’t translate it to working for two kids, my twin boys. I love having twins, but this is where there’s a big win for us only having the twins at this point: There’s no first. They’re nearly-identical boys that we love equally and we don’t have any experience with one over the other so neither has a head start or leg up. If we subscribed to this notion of making a kid feel like a special little flower, we’re going to be doing any of coaching each kid to excel past his brother in most every instance, picking a favourite, or finding another plain to live on. I love the latter option – choosing to be on a plain where we want to be good people, all of us, honouring competition and having a best showing in all we do, improving versus our last outing with a little friendly rivalry that doesn’t really matter just thrown in. A shirt that says “I’m better than I was yesterday,” would be awesome.

One of the funny things about being #1 is that there’ll always be one – in auto racing, even if you’re in the only car to finish the race after qualifying last and everyone else crashed on turn 1, you’re #1. In a really crappy draft year, someone’s number 1. Every year, they give out “Best New Album” awards on whatever your favourite music awards show is even if every single new album was bad. One of the things about being “good” and competing against yourself is that it’s a choice, it’s a way of life, and it’s not shaken by being #1, 2, or 5 regardless of what the rest of the field looks like. It doesn’t mean giving up on striving to number one if that’s the goal, it just means that being number one isn’t a personal validation.

I can’t, in good conscience, be pushing the notion of being #1 on my kids. That kind of leaves the door wide open for them to get up to pretty much anything. One thing that always puzzled me, though, is parents telling kids “You can be anything you want.” That seems like a bit of a cop out on one hand: “You be what you want and I’ll support you.” The parent’s pretty much off the hook there and the kid can do what he or she wants. On the other hand, it’s entirely untrue! Neither of my kids will be the President of the United States – no matter how bad one might want it, it’s not going to happen. Who lies to their kids?

So they can’t always be #1 and they can’t do anything they want. Surely they can do what they love and just be happy. They can each find their uniqueness in their passions. It’s a nice idea, but doing what one loves doesn’t necessarily provide food and shelter or take care of loved ones. Miya Tokumitsu writes that “While “do what you love” sounds harmless and precious, it is ultimately self-focused to the point of narcissism.” That doesn’t sound very good either.

I just keep coming back to the idea of being “good.” Raising the kids to be able to assess, think, make decisions they’re fully aligned with, be willing to work hard, and be just without the pressures of being the best, but just being better than the day before, seems like a good idea.

Any other first time parents ever struggle with this stuff? Anyone not a parent and struggle with this personally?

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At some point in the next 3 weeks, I’m set to become a father for the very first time. It’s an exciting holiday season around the house because, on account of having twins, they could really arrive at any time between now and… well, later.

I’ve done some consulting on social media and assisted organizations in writing social media policies over the years, but I feel like I’m in totally uncharted territory as far as babies and social media: My kids aren’t old enough to consent to sharing of photos and personal information online, but one day they will be.

I’ve no idea what’ll happen with Facebook since the long-term looks tough with fewer young people signing up, but I’m a little nervous about posting details about my kids that I maybe don’t want to be posted in 1, 5, 15 years. For example, a lot of parent will post photos of their babies with:

  • Full names;
  • Birth dates;
  • Locations.

In addition, a lot of parents seem to stick to their original last names or middle names, at least on Facebook, so anyone looking for details for identity theft are pretty much set to go. If I’ve posted my address at some point, someone, people are set to go!

Perhaps more seriously, with a well-documented history of my kids online, am I baiting them for predators? I’m not likely to be one of those parents that won’t let the kids play in the park on account of stranger-fear, but depending on what I’ve shared online, a stranger might be able to come up to little Lucy and say “Lucy, your dad, Dave, said it’s okay to come with me. He’s a little longer shopping at Safeway than he planned so he asked me to make sure you’re safe. He’ll be home soon, but we can stop and pick up a gift for your mom’s birthday and bring her some ice cream.”

My moment-to-moment posts are likely all going to be fine – it’ll be the story that someone can put together by looking at a series of posts. On Twitter, I used to try to make ten “good” tweets for every “stupid” tweet I put up to demonstrate some competency and bury the things I didn’t want people to see. These days, my posts-per-day (or month on Twitter), are way down so my stories are easier to review.

I’ve toyed with shutting it all down or locking down my Facebook, but that seems a bit extreme. I’m wondering if anyone else has struggled with this or found a way to make it work…

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West Coast Express Passes Change to Monthly

August 1, 2013

The change in billing for non-daily West Coast Express passes will make lines longer and reduce flexibility for customers. I am not looking forward to taking the West Coast Express next month quite as much as I was before this announcement in July 2013.

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I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag….

March 25, 2012

Tonight after writing some content for a client’s site, I turned on Netflix and found …And Justice for All, a 1979 film staring Al Pacino where he plays an upstart lawyer going up against a corrupt legal system. Could use one of those these days, eh? Well, it opens with the Pledge of Allegiance and I […]

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This Night on Translink

February 25, 2012

Tonight I did something I always aim to avoid and that’s to take a West Coast Express train or transit past 5:30PM from Vancouver to Maple Ridge. The WCE is great, but after 5:30, there’s a 6:20PM train along with 7PM and 8PM buses that just don’t line up with a bus that gets me […]

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Why I Don’t Do New Years Resolutions

January 1, 2012

I’m not a big fan of New Years Resolutions. Come to think of it, I’m also not a fan of annual budgets either, but that’s a post for the work site and possibly less interesting than this one! The start of the new year often brings about the notion that we can immediately cleanse ourselves […]

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Bill C-10 – “The Ominous Crime Bill” – Conversation with Randy Kamp, MP

December 24, 2011

Back in October, I sent an email through Leadnow.ca regarding Bill C-10, the Conservatives’ new Crime Bill. It was a canned letter, but I’ve got some serious concerns about the bill, itself, as well as the fast-pace process through which it’s moving through the system. Here’s the letter I received from my MP, Randy Kamp: Dear […]

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The Worst BS Job Interview Question

November 6, 2011

What job interview question really irks you? For me, it’s one I’ve heard probably a hundred times. Though I haven’t been asked recently, it is: “How much did you make in your last position?”

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World of Kindness Concert at Vancouver’s Centre for Performing Arts

November 5, 2011

The World Kindness Concert in Vancouver featured a number of local musicians singing about kindness and acts of kindness through song and stories. Interesting tunes and inspiring stories.

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Social Good Summit @ Social Media Week Vancouver

September 2, 2011

In Vancouver and across British Columbia, there are so many opportunities to do good and improve the lives of people that organizations are often stumbling over themselves to compete for limited funding or limited volunteer time. Many are using social media tools to differentiate themselves and achieve their organizations’ missions. This day is about people sharing how.

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