This Dad Reminds Us of the Importance of Teaching Our Kids the Difference Between Special and Exceptional

A pharmacist dad—who moonlights as a philosopher—dropped some seriously sweet parenting advice on TikTok.

It's cliché but true: Parenting changes your perspective. Your priorities change, partly because they have to. After all, a tiny human is entirely dependent on you for food, clothing, and comfort.

Even as our children grow up and become more independent, we still have responsibilities, including keeping them feeling emotionally healthy. Part of that is loving them for who they are and having realistic expectations. In other words, understanding the difference between "special" and "exceptional" and the pressure that comes with expecting your child to be "exceptional."

Confused? A TikToker recently broke it down.

"When you have kids, you start realizing that they are all special," starts the TikToker, who goes by @philismypharmacist on the platform. "They are unique, and your perspective on life changes."

Phil goes on to explain that when you are younger, you think it's necessary to be better than everyone (or exceptional).

"But as a parent, you realize there's a danger in setting being exceptional as the reason why your kids have importance," Phil says.

Phil recalls being the shortest person in his 10th grade class and strategically wearing two pairs of pants.

"I didn't think I was exceptional at anything," Phil says. "And I think…the way I saw myself hurt because of that."

But as he got older, Phil realized he was special because he was different. Then, he had kids.

An image of a child painting a smiley face.
Getty Images.

"I realized I never want my kids to put their value of worth on being exceptional at things because they will always fail at some point," he says.

He left viewers with this thought: "I love them for who they are. I don't care if they are the smartest or the fastest…I just like their personalities and who they are. I want my kids to know they are going to be special, even if they are never exceptional."

More than 1.3K people have chimed in, and many were grateful to Phil for expressing this sentiment.

"I wish I had heard this as a kid. You are doing great things," wrote one person.

"I thought you were just a pharmacist. Didn't know you were a philosopher too. That's a pretty exceptional combination," said another.

"This is beautifully said. You're a wonderful soul. Kudos to you, Dad! Your kids will be forever grateful," another person commented.

This message is so important, especially right now, as we experience another surge in COVID-19 cases that may be throwing kids through more emotional, physical, and academic loops. Letting go of expectations and loving your kid for who they are is something that can have a positive ripple effect on your child—and you—long past the pandemic.

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