The Most Important Skill

As a parent there is a laundry list of skills I want to teach my child and future children. How to read, how to write, tie their shoe laces, share, etc. but having a discussion with a close girlfriend of mine made me think more into this especially after having my son Maximus.

Look MOM I can read!

My girlfriend  is a social worker and she works with children from toddlers to adolescents and has seen some crazy and very sad situations over the years. But the one thing she said that has surprised me (and her) is “There is no rhyme or reason to the children I have come into contact with their problems. I have seen poor children all the way to rich children with or without loving homes and some still end up in trouble or with issues.” I think most people (I should never generalize I know) would think “Of course someone from a broken family or a poverty-stricken area will have more problems!” but talking to my girlfriend some of the children she has seen are from “upstanding” well off families as well.

So as a new parent I ask myself what do I want for my children, what do I want them to be? My first responses before children were to be successful in whatever they chose and to be happy. But now after discussing with my girlfriend over the years I realize that I want my child to have strong coping skills.

Coping skills? I know, I know it sounds weird but hear me out. Yes, I want my child to be happy but let’s be honest: YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY ALL OF THE TIME AND LIFE CAN BE HARD. So that is really unrealistic. As for successful I do not really care if my child is a CFO or a waitress as long as they can take care of themselves after I am gone. (Morbid I know..)

So we are back to coping skills. If life is hard then I want my child to be able to handle it. I want him to be able to stand up to bullies, maybe a hard teacher, any challenge,  a heartbreak, tough boss, possibly losing his job, divorce (50% of marriages end this way), etc.  If my child can get back up and move on from hardship I think this will help with success and happiness.

How will our children deal with tough times?


The next question is how do we help with coping skills. There seems to be many articles about children who have gone through traumatic events but not as many about just everyday stressors. The few articles I have found ( show that coping skills do link to social anxiety and depression such as internalizing the stress, but some of the articles talk to letting your children try, fail but have a good support system so they know that they can overcome the stress.

I have been doing this little by little with Max and starting early. He is a few days from his first birthday and already walking and making connections. He is also starting the whining if he does not pick up a new skill right away. A small example presented itself the other night when Max took stackable blocks and was trying to put them together. He easily got frustrated and instead of running to him right away (which was my first instinct) I let him continue to whine and play and he eventually got them stacked. This is not a huge deal but I have to realize that even though I am a mother and a nurturer, I am also teaching my son for future skills especially since I will not be around forever. There are many other factors that contribute to how we develop including family, peers, etc. but if I can do anything to help my son handle how hard life can be in the future then I think I am doing my job (well part of it).

Micheal Jordan didn’t make his JV basketball team but look at him!

So what do you think the most important skills are? What do you do to help foster these skills?

9 thoughts on “The Most Important Skill

  1. Nice to meet another science mom on here. MS in MSS here. Are you struggling with the slowly shrinking big pharmas in this state as well or are you with one of the smaller companies?

    1. Luckily I work for a mid level company that has conservative views on hiring lol, and great new drugs in the pipeline. I used to work research and development and then worked at a biomedical equipment company but realized I was not a desk job kind of girl so now I get to talk science all day but not be stuck to a bench. P.s. seriously nowhere is safe some of my friends who are research scientist have been laid off it is definitely scary out here!!

  2. You are so wise, Dear Sista! I completely agree ~ I think it can also be called “Emotional Intelligence.” In fact I do believe there is a book called “Emotional Intelligence for Children” that I’ve been interested in reading. Thanks for the reminder! ♥

  3. This is a great post and can’t agree with you more. I think many of us put pressure on the education side of our children but forget about the important life skills that allows them to function in society. They can go to the best schools, be at the top of their class, but if they don’t have life skills their education is useless.

    On the radio yesterday I heard a discussion a few people were having about how now a days it seems children get prizes for everything, a trophy no matter where they places, etc and how they feel its hurting their children. One father was saying how at his daughters dance class this year (she is 9) it was the first year only the top 3 dances got a trophy and not everyone. His daughter was hurt so bad but hew as trying to explain to her why it was that way and just because she didn’t get one didn’t mean she didn’t do a good job. He was saying how when he grew up it wasn’t this way and was wondering why society is changing like this. To me it seems better for them to know from the beginning that not everyone gets a medal. The top will get one but it doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job, just means you need to try harder next time and you will get there next time.

    1. So true!! I do not want my child to always get a medal because when they adults that does not ever happen! I feel like its a fine line we have to walk to make our kids feel good but not give a sense of entitlement. Thank you for your comment 🙂 P.S I am another science mom 🙂 M.S. in MCB

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