YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED that I often talk about how important it is not to focus on just one aspect of life when you pursue your dreams. We are far too integrated spiritually, relationally, financially, intellectually, and logistically to do great things in just one area and hope to end up feeling successful.
However, there is one element that will make you hugely happy if you get it right, regardless of whatever else you do or don’t do, and that will guarantee mountains of misery no matter what else you succeed at if you get it wrong.
The one element?
Being a good parent.
Doing What Doesn’t Come Naturally
Long ago, I heard it said that no one ever laid on their death bed and wished they’d spent more time at the office, but countless people have died wishing they’d spent more time with their children. Although I can’t prove the claim, I don’t doubt that it’s true, and wherever you are in your family journey, it’s critical to decide now—if you haven’t already—that you will not be one with this particular death-bed regret.
So, how do you do the parenting thing right?
We live in a culture that’s become too touchy-feely about how to determine what’s right and what’s not, and it's led to a tendency for parents not to feel like parents.
Mom and Dad feel uncomfortable being in authority over someone else, so they let children set the tone. It’s as if they think they're being presumptuous to assume they know better and should be able to direct their kids in specified ways that they, the parents, determine.
But that’s a feeling you absolutely need to get over.
You are in charge. Even if you feel like that “sweet little person” should have a say, you're the one responsible for making the ultimately right choices for both of you.
Misleading feelings are sometimes based on how we were taught by our parents and sometimes based on cultural influences, neither of which are always an apt guide for what you should do. Think your parenting role through for yourself. Decide what you want to do differently from how you were raised or how you've been influenced by advertising, television, movies, and social media. And as you filter, acknowledge the good ideas you want to employ. Then make choices for you and your children based on your plan, not on your whims.
One Thing, Many Parts
Although I call parenting the “one” thing, there are many moving parts to parenting. That’s why countless books have been written on the subject. I can tell you, though, there are a handful of straightforward principles that help immensely and provide a first-rate foundation for everything you do as a parent.
I’ve assembled them into an “9-Point Guide to Being a Great Parent.” Number 2, for example, is an especially Different-oriented idea:
The most important education happens through life, not school.
Share what you love, what you want, what you dream, and take your kids with you as you go. Through you, they will experience their first taste of life as an adventure. Even if you’re “making it up as you go along,” let them know that’s simply part of trying to piece together a fulfilling existence. Kids tend to be more flexible than adults anyway, so they’re likely to be far more supportive of your attempts to fulfill a dream than adult associates, co-workers, and extended family.
[You can get all nine, FREE from the Different on Purpose store by entering Coupon Code FREE9POINTS when you check out. Click here to order.]
Parenting can go along as you fulfill your other dreams. This bears repeating from a previous post of mine:
Good parenting can happen no matter what else you do to pursue your dreams.
If you dream of moving to the country but end up staying in the city, you can be a good parent in suburbia.
If you keep your 9-to-5 job and never start the business of your dreams, you can be a good parent while you build a business for someone else.
And if you never make more than the median American household income instead of becoming a millionaire, you can be a stellar parent at whatever level of financial mediocrity.
Whatever you make of your other dreams, your best guarantee of happiness is to get the parenting part right.
*Photo credit: Polina Zimmerman from Pexels.
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