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Accepting our children's best efforts with appreciation and understanding

By Margaret OwenSpecial to The Christian Science Monitor / January 16, 1984



''Every time I make out report cards,'' sighed a teacher friend the other day , ''the same thing bothers me. Parents always take pride in the academic achievement or athletic prowess of their children. But how many will boast that their child is nice? It just isn't done!''

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It has been this way as long as I can remember. Years ago, a neighbor was discussing her daughter's report card with my mother. She was bemoaning the teacher's statement that ''Julia is a nice little girl, and she tries very hard.''

''Well,'' remarked my mother, who was also a teacher, ''you can't ask for a better comment than that! If Julia is doing her best, you should be pleased, especially since she's such a delightful child.''

Although it is unrealistic to expect people to exceed their capabilities, many parents continually pressure their children to excel in all things. It is important to be aware of our children's strengths, and to accept their best efforts with appreciation and understanding.

There is nothing sadder than to watch children who are trying hard to achieve but are falling behind in their schoolwork because they are slow to grasp new concepts. Or those who are trying to master skills that seem beyond their capabilities. These children need their parents' love and encouragement. They must be made to feel that the people they are trying so hard to please are proud of them.

Children are often under pressure from their peers as well. Children can be unkind to one another, and those who fail to excel in sports or schoolwork are frequently looked upon as losers. Thus the dilemma faced by my teacher friend.

''After all,'' she says, ''some children who are tops academically or athletically are also egotistical, rude, and mean. All children should be taught to be considerate, well-mannered, and respectful.''

So if your child's teacher says to you, ''Jimmy is doing his best - he's a really nice boy,'' hold your head up high. This world needs all the nice people it can get.