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Well-Rounded or Sharp? Will your child be heard from the herd?

boy-with-scissorsDo you consider yourself well-rounded, accomplished in many areas, and a Renaissance Person?  Or do you consider yourself an “expert” in one or two particular areas?  Do you do your own laundry, prepare your own tax return, work in a job outside the home, parent, jog, garden, read poetry, diagnose your own medical ailments, fill your own dental cavities (ouch!), build your own home, and then fix the roof when it leaks? If you do not do each and every one of these things, I guess we can say that you are not “truly well-rounded.”  This is a silly way of making the point that most adults have different interests, but we tend to excel in one or two areas that are particularly important to us (e.g., being a parent, being a career person, etc.).

Do we sufficiently allow our children to excel in one area, do we place unrealistic demands for broad-based accomplishment, or do we have a nice balance between each?  Do you believe that parents and schools place too much pressure on children to be “well-rounded” and good at everything, or, do you believe that exposing children to a variety of subjects allows them the opportunity to discover their true talents and strengths?  This is a question that obviously does not have one correct answer, but it is important to know where you stand philosophically on the issue.  It is also valuable to help your children strike their balance.  It is a great strength to be well-rounded and adaptable, but it is also a great strength for a child to have a small number of deep interests where he or she child excels.  Both are part of a strong foundation for a child as he or she builds confidence, self-esteem, and a strong sense of identity. These are, incidentally, factors that go a long way later in helping the adolescent remain strong and less susceptible to peer pressure.

So, will your child be heard from the herd?  Here’s an important final point to remember.  While it is your job to provide guidance and create safe opportunities for your child to explore, learn, and take “risks,” it is your child’s job to figure out his strengths and excel in using those strengths in the pursuit of happiness and in the service of others as he becomes a “Maximum Strength Child”.