Periodically I am faced with other parents who question the success of my sons, for what ever reason, and by association how they were parented. This bothers me but not for the reasons you may think. I rarely get up in arms and angry at people who throw out comments about how my sons choose to maneuver their lives. What I more often feel for these other parents is a deep regret and feeling of compassion. I wonder if they know and appreciate their own children fully? While I usually don't say anything to these parents/caregivers, because I don't feel the need to explain, or make excuses, for choices in my life that have nothing to do with them, I do feel the need to share some wisdom that I can honestly share has been successful.
This wisdom is not mine. While it has been adjusted to fit to our family the knowledge has been taken from experts in many different fields of life. So while reading this know that you also can go out and find the information that will fit your family and lifestyle.
When husband and I had our first son we sat down and had a conversation about what were going to be the most important things we wanted our child(ren) to learn. The things that would help them be successful in life. Before we could do that we realized that we needed to define what was the meaning of success.
We decided that success is defined differently by everyone but ultimately must include happiness. The traditional meaning of success usually includes some word that means wealth.
The definition of wealth includes some reference to money, and material items. But it is in the second definition of wealth that we focused on.
* How to be polite. Manners should always be used with everyone. We made sure to teach our kids that insisting on using manners is not a sign of weakness. Using words and not your fists will get you farther in life. Being able to use manners when ever confronted with a bully of any age, through all stages of life, defines character. More importantly knowing that you can be polite when faced with rudeness is an internal motivator. It feels good when you have succeeded at standing up to a bully with only your words, and character, and encourages you to be brave. This internal motivator moves us forward to face other scary situations, like a new job, a crappy boss, a new school, moving out of state, your first child, etc. It also encourages learning, which in turn encourages wisdom, and supports further courage enabling further accomplishments.
The test of whether or not you were successful at teaching this skill is; did they turn into honest, trustworthy adults. Are they capable of communicating what they think and feel with respect and honesty to achieve their goals? Honesty is directly related to politeness.
*Faith. While we took our children to church with us when they were young; when they hit puberty they began questioning religion and god. Give them options to your religion. Show them that the world is full of all kinds of faith. Teach them that its not important that they follow your path but they have a path and if they opt to be atheist be the best atheist they can be. Role model how to live with each other respectfully while having different faiths. Hubby is Catholic, I am Buddhist, we love each other, and agree to disagree on some points of faith, reincarnation vs. heaven for example. Being able to do this in your household is invaluable to teaching compassion, which is something all faith's subscribe to.
*Compassion. In this world full of so much anger, hate, and confusion the best thing you can arm your child with is compassion. Knowing how and why people do what they do. This must be taught with empathy. While we are born with empathy it is still a skill that must be role modeled and nurtured.
*No. I remember having clients who didn't want their child to hear no. While the intentions were good this sets up children for failure. If you choose to raise your child in a world where they never hear no they will be disappointed as adults...often. The world is full of no. The trick is teaching them that its nothing to be afraid of and to get out there and try again. To be brave. They gain confidence with no by being allowed to say no and knowing that you are going to listen to their reasons for saying no and periodically back them up on their decision. YES it is your job to sometimes say to them I'm sorry you don't want to do this but you still have to. BUT it is also your job to sometimes respect their reasons for saying no and let them have it. Knowing some one will listen to them builds confidence and more importantly keeps you connected with them through all the difficulty's of their life.
You may feel the temporary feeling of satisfaction that comes with thinking that you did what was right for your child, but more often than not what usually happens is they will do it their way after all, and end up slightly resenting you for putting them on a path that wasted their time. So its ok...they can figure it out for themselves. And I don't say this in a vindictive, angry tone of voice kind of way. I mean in a they can, and will, figure it out with out you, have confidence in them and your parenting, kind of way.
I wanted to send strong, independent, compassionate, honest, respectful adults out into the world who all made a difference in their own way. If they wanted to be a garbage man then be the best garbage man they can be. If they wanted to work at McDonalds then be the best darn Mcee D's employee there is. No matter what their choice was, or is, just do it to the best of your ability and your will discover your own individual potential. Once anyone figures out they are capable of more, then they want more, simple as that. Its not anything that can be taught, it must be experienced. Give them what they need to experience life to its fullest and how to be good at it and it will be ok.
The Pith of the Matter is this. When you walk your own path with love, respect, politeness, compassion, and confidence you will get what you need to be happy. To be successful and obtain all the wealth you need in this life to sustain you. Be a thoughtful person and you will raise thoughtful children.
listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all
of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia
― Sarah Dessen,
― Fred Rogers,