Attention world: normal is not defective

I listened to a two-part Focus on the Family broadcast called “Better Ways to Communicate with Your Children” with Michael Anderson and Dr. Timothy Johanson on November 18. This quote struck me: “Our culture wants everyone to be exceptional so much that being normal is considered defective.”

That is true! It’s become a disturbing problem!

Wanting to be a winner starts young.

First, when our kids are in t-ball and Little League, everyone is considered a winner and gets a trophy even though some kids are better than others. Somebody lost. The true winner should get the trophy, no one else. We aren’t all equal in talents. People earn honors. The trophy is the reward. Such thinking has created individuals who feel entitled.

Yet this same set of people have also created a mindset that everyone needs to be an award-winning athlete or valedictorian, top ten, high honor roll student to be considered a success. This carries on with the career. Nobody brags that her son pumps septic tanks, but everyone brags if her son is a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or ground-breaking scientist.

I’m afraid I’ve fallen into this trap by pressing my kids to excel in their sports and academics. Of course, every parent wants her child to do well so the child can succeed in her career and pay the bills. But perhaps we should redefine success to counter this growing problem of people feeling like failures because they are NORMAL.

Being normal is–uh–normal!

There’s nothing wrong with being normal. In fact, most people are normal, despite all the bragging everywhere about how exceptional our kids and spouses are. No wonder depression and hopelessness seem to be increasing.

There are the kids who overachieve and the kids who don’t even try. Shame is the fear both can claim: the fear of never being good enough. One continues to strive for that unattainable perfection. One has quit trying.

The root begins with us parents. In the broadcast, they said pregnant moms claim all they want is a normal baby, but by age four, they’re trying to show how exceptional their children are. We’ve fallen for a destructive lie that is hurting everyone. There are more important factors of success in life than being the star athlete or the top student. Persistence, resilience, compassion, and integrity are just four I think of off the top of my head.

Each of us has something valuable to offer.

Perhaps acceptance that we may not all be exceptional, but we are all uniquely gifted and specially created and loved would be a good place to start. If we can just admit our faults and know that being average and being normal is a gift in itself. Some of us struggle, and there is no shame in that either. God has a purpose for each of us. He doesn’t make mistakes. How freeing this would be if we all believed it and lived it.

I think it boils down to loving each other and encouraging each other and being humble rather than proud. I wonder how many of our problems would disappear by choosing these thoughts over the ones that try to show that we’re somehow better than others. We aren’t better than anyone else in God’s eyes.

What a terrible mess we have made with all our comparisons.

How do you combat this problem?

To listen to the broadcasts, follow these links: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/better-ways-to-communicate-with-your-children-part-1-of-2/ and https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/better-ways-to-communicate-with-your-children-part-2-of-2/.

6 thoughts on “Attention world: normal is not defective

  1. One of my favorite movies is “The Incredibles” which deals with this very topic. There’s in a line in it that’s always stuck with me, “…when everyone’s super, no one will be.”

    I remember seeing this trend building 25+ years ago. We had a speaker at our mother’s group talking about it’s good to reward all the kids and not single out the ones who excel. I challenged him on this, asking when those same kids grow up and have to fight for jobs in the world, how will they cope? (Or something like that!)I don’t recall his answer, other than it being fumbled and me not convinced. And this person was a professor at the local college.

    Yes, we’re all unique and all an integral part of the body of Christ, but those unique gifts are for God to use, they’re about obedience.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Brenda. I totally agree with you. I think there are some very shocked people when they are forced to face reality. I’m glad you challenged the professor. I hope he reconsidered because I think it has harmed people rather than boost their esteem as I think was the goal. Well said about the gifts being for God to use through our obedience. Merry Christmas, Brenda!

  2. I agree totally with your thoughts Michelle. I DVR every Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movie…and a line in one of them…(who knows which one??) was…

    A perspective father was talking to his father or father-in-law…can’t remember. He said he only wanted to be a good father and be happy. The older man said, “Well, you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Wow…That saying hit me, and it goes for grandchildren as well.

    I try really hard to not base *my personal* happiness on other family members, but it’s pretty hard to do, so that line rang true for me.

    1. May God help us to find happiness through the only true way–in pure, genuine love and not in accomplishments and other world-set standards. It is hard. We all need help there, don’t we? Thanks so much for sharing, Deb. I like finding nuggets of wisdom tucked in movies too. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  3. Michelle, this is a hard one to answer. all of our children, and grandchildren have done well in life, including our 27 year-old autistic grandson. Does he make as much money as the others? No. But he is works full-time (on a computer), in a jewelry store. He is well liked there. Do we sometimes make exceptions in situations where he perhaps doesn’t understand? Yes, we do. But he is loved and respected for what he can and does do, as the others are. Each are precious in God’s sight, and in ours.

    1. Yes, each person is precious, I agree. Thanks for sharing, Donna. I was addressing the unhealthy competitiveness and comparisons that make people feel less than. You have a very blessed family. Merry Christmas!

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