Aside from the age old adage – location, location, location – it is also a truth in real estate that you never want to own the best house in the neighborhood.
I try instill this same principal in raising my children and in my own personal relationships.
I am a firm believer that we are better off if we surround ourselves with people better than we are. Those that are more educated, perhaps more athletically inclinded, even those that dress better than we do. Why? I like people who challenge me. Challenge me to be a better person or a better parent. Or even to take a shower in the morning.
As a parent, I want the same for my children. I want them to spend time with kids who care about academics. I encourage them to seek out friends who are over acheivers and want more out of life than a GED and a house on wheels. It isn’t about material wealth but the understanding that knowledge is power. That physical and mental strength can counquer antyhing.
In the course of parenting I come across many people who are looking for their kid to be the best. The smartest, fastest, highest acheiver amoung their peer group. But instead of acheiving this through effort, they create an artificial world in which their child is the “best”. I call this “dumb it down parenting”. These parents actively seek teams, clubs and cliques where their children shine.
I am starting to see this in swimming. Parents moving their children to summer teams where their child IS the fastest. Searching out clubs where they will be the best OR only in an age group. I don’t see any benefit to this.
An exact year ago, we moved the kids to a large swim club. None of our girls would be the “top” of anything within the club. They were challenge, motivated and pushed beyond a place they had ever gone. And they rose to the challenge. All three had remarkable years.