Why I don’t care if my kids are smart.

We all want what’s best for our children – either it’s because of our genuine love or because of our inherent desire to see our genes survive and succeed. Our definition of success varies but essentially it means to be able to achieve a desired goal. I’ve always been fascinated with what makes successful people tick, what sets them apart from the general population? Why were they able to achieve their goals while countless others were not?

Freinds having lunch

Friends having lunch

This topic came up recently when I went out for lunch with a group of my high school friends. While reminiscing about our high school days and where our peers ended up after completing their education (a.k.a Facebook stalking)- we tried to figure out why some students were undoubtedly more successful than others. ‘Successful’ meaning thriving in their career of choice, achieving higher education, ‘making it big’ or simply having life turn out as planned . The interesting thing was that we weren’t surprised at the successful students’ success; there was something about them that we recognized even back in high school. Some people just have ‘it’- there’s something about them that convinced us all that they were going to go somewhere. It was that they were confident. They weren’t necessarily the most popular, the most athletic or even on the honour roll. Yet, they are successful today.

Motivational poster

Motivational poster

Remember this quote from the inspirational posters on your guidance office walls?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”– that’s a no brainer right? Well you would be surprised at the number of brilliant people who are not successful today just because they didn’t take the shots. Too many people underestimate themselves and don’t realize their potential. Like a self fulfilling prophecy they are as unsuccessful as they originally believed.
As I mentioned in my post about my Life goals; I want to do confidence building exercises with my children every day. They can learn about the planets and chemistry some other time-now is the time to focus on what I find most essential- confidence. A friend of mine asked me why I was so specific about confidence. It’s because talent, good looks,and high IQ, etc. are almost useless without confidence. A Ferrari without gas is a good analogy. I’m sure you can think of people who are blessed with many of God’s favour’s but don’t seem to be doing anything with them. The genius still living in his parents basement playing video games, the gorgeous girl with self esteem problems always hunched over and scowling. Or on the other end of the spectrum: that guy that every girl is attracted to but isn’t particularly good looking; let’s not forget the person who keeps getting promoted despite not being the most qualified. The common denominator in these illogical situations is the absence or excess of confidence.
My biggest fear in life (besides not making it to Jannah) is not being around for my children when they need me. I find nothing more gut wrenching than images on TV or in movies where children are in a panic searching for their dead mothers. I know I won’t always be around-that’s a fact( Actually I hope that it’s me that’s not around instead of them that are not around) so might as well prepare for it now.  I invest hours on end going through research about how to raise confident children because I earnestly believe it’s one of the most essential necessities of life. It’s my way of silencing the anxiety I feel thinking about ‘what will happen to them if I die now?’ I’m assuming I’m not inherently morbid and that all mothers think about this from time to time-am I right? I believe instilling confidence will compensate –even if just a little-for the role I play.

Quran quote from pinterest about purpose of creation

Quran quote from pinterest about purpose of creation

Life is going to be full of tests-Allah has promised us that. As Muslims we need to face those tests with patience and gratitude. Whether it’s a math problem or marital issues-confidence in your ability to make it through, is the foundation of success.

Whether or not I am around to whisper words of encouragement when they are facing challenges, the confidence I hope to cultivate within them will be what they need to succeed.

 

Mindset the new psychology of success

Mindset the new psychology of success

Carol Dweck is a world renowned psychologist at Stanford University. Her book ‘Mindset: The new psychology of success’ outlines her two decades of research on mindsets in adults and children. She states that people fall into two categories ‘Fixed Mindset’ (FM) and ‘Growth Mindset’(GM). Like the name suggests, those with FM’s believe that intelligence, talents and abilities are fixed and can’t be changed in any meaningful way. FM’s are deeply concerned with attaining success or ‘being smart’ and avoid failure at all costs because they see it as a sign of un-intelligence. A GM on the other hand thrives on challenges, growth and expanding his/her skills.GM’s believe that they can achieve whatever they want as long as they’re willing to work hard enough.

Mindset the new psychology of success

Mindset the new psychology of success

The implications of these mindsets- which we manifest from a very early age- extend to our behaviour and our relationship with success and failure in both our personal and professional contexts. The most important implication of our mindsets is that it ultimately determines our capacity for happiness.

Many of us may have developed the Fixed Mindset from an early age, but the good news is that it can be changed! It’s never too late to alter our thought patterns about what we can achieve in our personal life, career, education, health, relationships and the many roles we play.

A mothers embrace

A mother’s embrace

GM’s fare better in life because there are no such things as failures, only opportunities to learn and improve. They are resilient after hardship and believe that happiness is attainable. Though there are many virtues of being confident in ones abilities or having a GM- such as success and happiness- I am most concerned with resilience. I want my children to be able to pick up the pieces and move on from hardships even if I’m not there to comfort them and tell them so. As much as I love when my children succeed, I love more when they get right back up after falling. It fills me up with the wonderful feeling that ‘everything is going to be okay’.

Chai later,

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29 Comments on Why I don’t care if my kids are smart.

  1. Kulz
    August 1, 2015 at 7:45 am (2 years ago)

    Sahar… SubhanAllah… Even the blurb on facebook made me cry. This was an amazing article, well thought out and very well put together. I’m not even a parent and it’s something I wonder about. This was such a nice post to read! JAZAKALLAH Khair for sharing your insight!

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 3:33 pm (2 years ago)

      awww- Jazak Allahu khairun Kulz. Such a sweet comment..I try not to think about it all the time but it’s always at the back of my mind. Building confidence in them to tackle everything in life is what helps me sleep at night.

      Reply
  2. random bytes
    August 3, 2015 at 9:07 am (2 years ago)

    MashaAllah, what a detailed post this is! I loved going through it and almost agree on whatever points you mention here sahar!

    :):)

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 3:38 pm (2 years ago)

      Jazakallah! I’m glad to hear that! I would absolutely love to hear any of the ideas that you use!

      Reply
  3. ChristalBlogs
    August 3, 2015 at 9:08 am (2 years ago)

    Brilliant article sis mashaAllah. I believe intelligence is relative and not always a measure of success. I’ve met many people who are intelligent but haven’t really achieved anything with it in terms of bettering themselves personally. may Allah swt make all of our children a success in the skhirah and in the duniya. Ameen

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm (2 years ago)

      Ameen!!! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the article! That is definitely true! There are tons of different types, and successful people really shine from their confidence!For me success is more about resilience and getting up after they fall down. As long as I know they won’t give up when life is hard I will be ok.

      Reply
  4. veena
    August 3, 2015 at 9:40 am (2 years ago)

    May Allah help us to be good parents. 🙁 it is something that saddens me most of the time. Your article awakened some emotions that i have neglected for quite sometime

    Reply
  5. Britdeshimummy
    August 3, 2015 at 9:46 am (2 years ago)

    I work in the recruitment industry and in my experience a confident person is a successful person!

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 3:50 pm (2 years ago)

      I couldn’t agree more! One thing is for sure, you can’t read confidence off a resume!

      Reply
  6. Aisha
    August 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm (2 years ago)

    I can so relate to this. I have always been an average student. Sometimes I got A*’s and A’s while other times I have ended up with B’s C’s and even D’s. But Alhumdulilah I am still doing better than many of my class mates who got straight A’s. I am so glad you have understood this way early as a parent because even when we children our confident and determined about our goals sometimes our grades let or parents down and that in turn discourages us. You did a great job in writing it down. Each parent should think this way. 🙂

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 3:52 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m so glad you can relate! The important thing is to bounce back, and activities that increase confidence give kids that Can-do attitude!

      Reply
  7. shahneela Shamim
    August 3, 2015 at 1:09 pm (2 years ago)

    Brilliant article… undoubtedly confidence is the most important ingredient for success…

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 3:54 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Shahneela Shamim! If all parents focused on confidence we would have more successful children who could endure the ups and downs of life better!

      Reply
  8. Muslimah9211
    August 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm (2 years ago)

    Very enlightening.

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Reply
  9. Ummbilal01
    August 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm (2 years ago)

    Intelligence is not necessarily a measure of success. I also think ‘smart’ is relative. One isn’t book smart but might be tech smart or streetc smart. Wonderful insights though.

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 4:02 pm (2 years ago)

      Salamz Ummbilal01 I agree. Intelligence is not a measure of success, my definition of success is getting up after you fall down. I would consider my children successful if they were unphased by “failure” and only saw learning opportunities.

      Reply
  10. The Gutless Ninja
    August 3, 2015 at 4:44 pm (2 years ago)

    SubhanAllah a very thought-provoking blog. The ideas about mindset are fascinating. Sounds like you’ve got the right idea here, I’m sure your children will appreciate this in years to come inshallah. Thank you for a wonderful read 🙂

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 4:05 pm (2 years ago)

      Salamz Gutless Ninja, thank you so much for the kind comment! I would love if my children decided to employ this parenting method as well. I’ve been grazing over your blog, Masha’ Allah, I love it so much!

      Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 4:06 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you! I hope you had as much fun reading as I did writing it!

      Reply
  11. Sara Essop
    August 4, 2015 at 12:51 pm (2 years ago)

    I can really relate to this. As an adult, I often wish that I had the confidence to do things like public speaking. And I don’t want my children to be in the same position as me. The Growth Mindset is key!

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm (2 years ago)

      Salam Sara! Funny how we want for our children what we often lack, but we don’t realize we can get it too. Alhamdulillah according to the Growth Mindset we can still achieve whatever it is we desire or fear that we lack. Have you thought about enrolling in a Toast Masters Course? It’s never too late to do public speaking.

      Reply
  12. Foz
    August 6, 2015 at 9:41 am (2 years ago)

    Confidence is definately an important factor if you want to be successful.

    Great post

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 4:12 pm (2 years ago)

      Salamz Foz, I’m glad you liked the post!

      Reply
  13. CreativeKhadija
    August 7, 2015 at 3:51 am (2 years ago)

    MashaAllah very beautifully written and composed article, you did great job dear! thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 7, 2015 at 4:20 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Khadija (it means so much coming from a Supermom like yourself!)

      Reply
  14. Mohammad Z
    August 10, 2015 at 2:42 pm (2 years ago)

    What a wonderful article. I’m being honest when I say this but you’re a really good mother for emphasizing hard work over results. May Allah help your kids be successful.

    I guess a balance is the key. Some people have no confidence while others have too much and can become arrogant. So both extremes are bad.

    There are plans we have for our kids or ourselves we hope to achieve and then there’s a plan the All-Knower has for us. Sometimes it’s exactly the opposite of what we see for ourselves. I’ll give an example: I always wanted to be confident as a kid (even used to make dua for it) but deep down I was always unsure, scared, and even petrified of taking a step forward. I constantly blamed myself (which obviously made it worse) and others were right there to remind me of it too (like that’s going to help). But anyhow what I learned years later is that even that, what I considered to be a shortcoming in my character (low self-esteem), was a blessing from Allah. It was a blessing in the sense that when I was young it made me afraid to do things some of my friends got into – be it drugs, drinking, and other very harmful habits. I don’t think I was too religious, I was just so scared to do them. And now as an adult, when I’m in a much better place to make smarter lifestyle decisions, I can confidently turn away from these things.

    Allah helped me become confident at the right time in my life – I really believe that. And every person has their own path in that regard.

    Thank you again for the article. JazakAllah khair.

    Reply
    • Sahar
      August 18, 2015 at 9:07 am (2 years ago)

      Salaamz Mohammad Z,
      I want to apologize for taking so long to reply to your comment- it’s kinda your fault. lol masha’Allah it was such an awesome comment ( i read it over and over)- i wanted to reply with as much intelligence and insight as you did- but i finally came to terms with the fact that it won’t happen so might as well just respond 🙁
      Ameen to your duas and thank you so much for saying that I’m a good mother (if you saw me yelling yesterday you would probably take it back!).
      Subhan’ Allah, you’re so right! Your lack of confidence and your dua not coming true at that time was such a blessing. I’m sure you’re grateful now for your ‘character shortcomings’. One of the reasons I’m so obsessed with confidence for my children is because i had issues with it during my adolescence. i was one of those ultra confident kids growing up, fearless and curious (bad combination), and then suddenly it was gone. I blamed it on teenage angst, sudden weight gain etc..but now after all those years your comment made me see everything as a blessing! I am so grateful that I had a sudden dip in confidence during my teens- I too could have gotten involved in some pretty regrettable things. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your perspective-I feel like a missing piece of the puzzle finally fell into place.
      Thank you

      Reply

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