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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Toward Encouraging Healthy Leadership

Parenting has the power to shape the future. Having been raised as and trained to be a teacher, I have had a unique opportunity to be exposed to reams of data about raising children to be all that they can be, as well as what poses the greatest threat to their intellectual capacity and emotional health. Having raised three exemplary individuals who are making positive contributions to their environment and community, I feel especially qualified to guide others on their own parenting experience. Please feel free to question me further on any of these issues, I am always open to integrating new ideas and information, honing my own parenting style and my own teaching techniques. Parenting is the most important job on the planet and has the ability to shape future generations across the ages.

 We must teach the next generation, for their good as well as our own. The future of our entire culture rests on the foundational knowledge passed on to the next generations. Negative risk taking should be discouraged, such as violence and thrill seeking, smoking, alcohol abuse, addictive and dangerous drugs, etc. There will be times that young people will need our help, affirmation or protection. However, all children are going to want to spread their wings. They have to try things on their own. Adults must let them. Let these few tips guide you when developing your unique parenting style.
Help them learn to take calculated risks. Talk ideas over with them, point out possible outcomes and help prepare them for what they may find. Then, let them do it. Your primary job is to prepare your child for how the world really works, making sure that they are still alive when they finally fly to coop.
Discuss choices. Prepare them for possibilities and teach them how to both, win and lose, gracefully. Remind them that they may not get all they want and encourage them to face the consequences of their decisions.
Share stories of your own “risky” experiences. Help interpret them. This is one of the hardest pieces of parenting advice for most people. Sheltering our young from our own learning experience assures that they will suffer through making many of the same mistakes we had to. Because we’re not the only influence on our children, we must be the best influence.
Instead of tangible rewards, just spend time together.  Be careful not to teach them that emotions can be covered up by a trip to the mall or burying yourself in work. Children are often smart enough to realize that they don’t want to grow up to participate in their parent’s world, but if they learn from us that there is no other choice, it can lead to very dangerous consequences, depression, mal-adaptive and self-abusive behaviors.
Encourage positive risk taking. It may require encouragement, but get them used to trying new things in safe ways and pursuing as many opportunities as they can. Help them understand that they will never know if they like something unless they try it.
Don’t let guilt get in the way. Your number one job is not to placate your own feelings of guilt or inadequacy by giving your children everything. Never use guilt as a tool to exact compliance either. The surest way to raise a damaged child is to let them see you trying to overcome your own guilty conscience through them, or by instilling these toxic emotions in them.
Do not praise or reward the basics. If any relationship is based on constant praise or material rewards, we experience neither intrinsic motivation nor unconditional love. Certain activities are necessary for health, survival and living with others. Basic levels of functioning are not to be celebrated or praised excessively; it is just what we all must do. Taking on additional responsibilities or going over and above what is expected can be noteworthy, but some things in life are just that. The reward is that others do those same things.
Acknowledge intelligent risk-taking and hard work. Help children to see the advantage of both. Be a living example, showing them that stepping out of our comfort zone usually pays off. Communicating our own process and encouraging them to take on both freedoms and the responsibility that comes with it allows them to flourish.
Your child does not have to love you every minute. In fact, if you are doing your job well, occasionally they won’t. We all must learn to get over disappointment and failure but we don’t being spoiled. Let your children fail, let them fall, and let them fight for what they really value.  Treating our kids as if they are fragile creates fragile adults. We only have a short time to prepare them for the world that awaits them. Our world needs resilient adults not fragile ones.

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