There is no one else in the world like you. You are unique, with unique gifts and unique perspectives.
No one moves exactly like you, talks exactly like you or thinks exactly like you.
Each of your children is unique, with their own needs and ways of looking at the world. By raising children to appreciate their uniqueness, they will be more accepting of themselves and others. They will be more attuned to belonging than to fitting in.
Brene Brown distinguished the two so well in her book The Gifts of Imperfection when she wrote, “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.”
Focusing on our uniqueness has a different spin from focusing on how we are different. Uniqueness is more uniting. It allows us to be ourselves while seeing the special contribution that we add to the whole.
My parents adopted me, and focusing on how I add my unique qualities to our family is connecting. Focusing on how I am different is isolating.
Here are some ways to assist your child in developing an appreciation of their uniqueness and that of others:
Model an appreciation of uniqueness: As in all things, what you model is the greatest teacher. Let your child know the unique things that you love about them.
Show an appreciation of your own unique gifts. Get curious about all of the special ways each person contributes to the beautiful quilt that is your family. Talk about this over the dinner table or on a car ride.
Is their contribution their unique sense of humor, their interest in cooking, their love of movies, their athleticism, their way of solving problems, their laugh or something else?
Provide a variety of experiences: As your children grow, present them with experiences in a wide variety of arenas — music, dance, art, sports, writing, cooking — so that they discover their interests.
Be accepting of your child’s strengths as well as their lack of interest or skill in different areas. Handle defeat and failure — theirs and yours — with encouragement.
Avoid comparisons: Don’t compare one child to another, one person to another or yourself to someone else. Comparing and judging are external measurements that focus on our differences and lead to “better than” and “less than” thinking. Instead, focus on internal measurements and what your child desires to accomplish.
May you and your children experience the joy in appreciating your uniqueness.