“A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother in Parenting 101 if you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree you will be enrolled in parenting 505.”
~Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy, 2011 April General Conference
No child makes me feel more proud and at the same time like a complete failure as my middle son, Steffen—a talented, athletic, charming and handsome young man. A straight ‘A’ student (he was just accepted into the Junior Honors Society), he plays the trumpet, guitar and a little piano, is a Life Scout and is on track to earn his Eagle by the time he is fourteen. He competes in gymnastics and took home first place for his age and skill level at the Washington State’s Trampoline and Tumbling championships. He is a hard worker and is righteous, he volunteers in the S.T.A.R.S. reading program; tutoring younger students how to read, and he charms the socks off his youth leaders and teachers. . .
Yet, he feels life is unfair and is often down on himself. He has incredibly low self-esteem and no amount of “I am proud on you” seems to help. He is very good at beating himself up and as his mother it is hard to see the tears fall from his face when he didn’t achieve the goal he set out to do, whether getting an ‘A’ on a particular assignment, winning a game, or mastering a gymnastics skill.
He is very focused, whether delivering the Sacrament on Sundays or competing in gymnastics, however I somewhat feel he treats gymnastics like a chore, rather then something he is having fun doing. A few weeks ago, he won an award at the gym for “Best Smile.” I had to smirk, not because he does not have an incredible smile, but he never shows it at competitions. After the party, I was thinking how ironic for him to win the “Best Smile” award, when no matter how much I suggest to him to smile. I tell him, “Stick your landings, salute the judges and have fun out there.” Yet, he always has the most serious ‘military’ face on. His coach believes Steffen is focused on doing his “job,” and that is to perform and perform well. Just like Nadia Comaneci, she would become so involved in the performance she would forget the audience and not smile.
I love him to death. I think he is an intelligent and determined young man. He does have a cute smile and is quite talented. He is full of questions and questions everything, not just accepting things on face value. He debates me on everything. I have no doubt he will become a lawyer. Yet, he pushes my patience to the limit and sometimes I feel I just can’t win. What can I do to help this child? What parenting class do I need to be enrolled?