Friday, January 2, 2009

Maybe when the kids are grown...

"Maybe when the kids are grown...". Have you ever heard this said, when you've asked someone about a particular activity or pursuit? Better yet, have you ever uttered those words yourself? I was re-reading my "Happy New Year" post (looking for, I don't use "Spellcheck". I consider it an insult to anyone who has actually gone to school, beyond 5th Grade English...), specifically the section on not putting off goals or dreams that one might have. It's at this point that the thought occured to me.

Many people say just that. "Oh, I had to give up doing this when the kids came along", or "Oh, we can't do that now that we have children". Either the activity was deemed too dangerous, irresponsible or unseemly for someone who is now a parent. Whether it was a sport, travelling or some other leisure activity (motorcycle riding is a top one), these poor individuals decided they could no longer afford themselves the luxury of satisfying their soul's craving. So what does this teach our children? "Well, when you came along, we had to give up some of the things that we really enjoyed doing in life...". Here, pack your bags...we're going on a guilt trip!

And what else are we teaching them? That when you have children, your life becomes limited? That your dreams are put on hold? I realize that this is probably not an original idea here, but what if we didn't? What if we carried on doing exactly what we loved doing and incorporated our children into the mix? What would we be teaching them then? That you can do what you set your heart on? That parents can share their love of activities and pursuits with their children? That your parents are even more well-rounded and interesting than you previously thought?

The bottom line is, we would be confirming in our children's eyes, the importance of self. To say nothing of underlining the many possibilities that life has to offer. We would be adhering to the very first principle of leadership: we would be leading by example. If you don't think that as a parent you should be a leader, you are gravely mistaken. You are the only leader your child has, unless he or she finds one outside your home. Too many parents busy themselves trying to be their child's 'best friend'. Save yourself the trouble. They'll find plenty of those as they go through life and that is definitely not what they need from you. Be a parent. You are the only person in the world who can be that for your child. What they need from you is basic direction: Rules, guidance, boundaries and affection.

The upbringing you bestow upon your children, how they see and feel about themselves as they grow older, will dictate whom they draw to them as 'friends', as well as who they gravitate to for friendship. Teach them not only to have an unshakeable belief in themselves, but to understand and recognize that any limitations they may encounter in life, are more often than not self-imposed.

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