[Published by MomClick Utah and The Daily Herald here.]
Imagine for a moment that when you were recently taking down your Christmas tree, you found one last present. It was hidden behind the tree. Your children see their names on the present and are excited! The gift is from you to them. You have purposely saved it for last because it is the greatest gift they will ever receive from you.
What is it? What could it possibly be? What would be the best present that you could ever give to your children? What gift could you give them that would have the longest-lasting impact on their lives? The answer: Being a good parent.
My next few articles will address research-based “best practices” in parenting. Let’s begin by addressing an important subject that will be a good starting point for our discussion.
An old Chinese proverb reads, “The poorest man is not he without a cent, it is he without a vision.”
Research has shown that effective parents have VISION — a vision of themselves as parents AND a vision for their children.
“It was July 4, 1952. Florence Chadwick, who had previously swum across the English Channel, now was attempting the 21-mile swim from the Southern California mainland to Catalina Island. The water was a freezing 48 degrees. The fog was thick and visibility almost nonexistent. Finally, only a half mile from her destination, she became discouraged and quit. The next day reporters clamored around her asking why she had quit. Had it been the cold water or the distance? It proved to be neither. She responded, ‘I was licked by the fog.’ She then recalled her similar experience while swimming the English Channel. Evidently the fog was likewise engulfing. She was exhausted. As she was about to reach out for her father’s hand in the nearby boat to quit, he pointed to the shore. She raised her head out of the water just long enough to see the land ahead. With that new vision, she pressed on and became the first woman to conquer the English Channel.”
Every successful undertaking in life begins with vision. The clearer the vision, the stronger the commitment will be to make that vision a reality.
What is your vision of yourself as a parent?
What is it that you really do as a parent? Let’s put together a partial list.
• You are a teacher.
• You are a mentor.
• You are a friend.
• You are a cheerleader.
• You are a vision creator.
• You are a hero.
Why are good parents heroes? Because they do what “real” heroes do. They sacrifice themselves for others. They are good role models. They inspire others to want to become like them. They protect others from harm. They do extraordinary things.
This is what you do as a parent!
You will literally change the world through your children because of the influence they will have on other people. Future generations of your family will be affected by what you are doing as a parent right now. The ripple effect is never ending. Your children will become your lasting legacy to the world.
What is your vision for your children?
What kind of children do you wish to raise? How do you want them to turn out? Everybody wants to have good kids. Children that are happy, confident, responsible, resilient and compassionate. Every parent wants their child to reach their potential. So how do you do it?
Start by thinking about a pair of binoculars. What is their purpose? They allow you to see things clearly that are far away. They expand and improve your vision. Successful parents use their “parent binoculars” to see into their child’s future. They look at the big picture for their children — the view from 30,000 feet in the air. They “see the finish line from the starting line” for their children. They consider what they are really trying to accomplish as a parent. They see their children as they want them to become in the future.
The key question for you to thoughtfully consider is: What life skills will my children need to successfully navigate their lives?
Think through your list of life skills and write them down. This becomes the blueprint of your vision for your children. Do it today!
Imagine a pilot coming over the intercom and announcing: “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that we have lost one engine and the plane’s direction finder. The good news is that we have a tail wind and wherever we are going we are getting there at 600 miles an hour!”
Isn’t that how you feel as a parent sometimes? Running around at 600 miles an hour not sure where you are headed?
What are the benefits of you having vision as a parent?
• It will give you an overall roadmap with clear long-term goals for your children.
• You will establish priorities in your parenting efforts.
• It will affect the way you see your children, and the way you teach them.
•You will be a proactive parent instead of a reactive parent.
• During challenging times with your children, you will remember what a great privilege it is to be a parent.
• You will parent with purpose, confidence and perspective.
Keep up your great work! I know you are doing your best to be a good parent. Thank you for being the “real” hero your children so desperately need in today’s challenging world. Your children and grandchildren will be forever grateful.
Your commitment to being a good parent in 2014 will truly be the greatest gift you can give to your children.