Parenting can be a very rewarding experience, but with it comes great responsibility. Parents choose to make good decisions and, by choice, become good parents. Being a good parent involves making choices consistently all along the way.
When a baby is born, he does not come into this world knowing how to walk, talk, or even use his limbs; he needs to be taught. A baby does not awake one morning knowing how to walk; his parents must find the time to teach him to take the next step, from crawling to walking.
Failing to do that may delay the baby’s ability to walk, and absolute negligence will always have its own consequences.
The same approach applies to speech. Parents, by way of choice, have to find the time to talk to the baby and offer daily lessons on language and speech. Without this, the baby may experience speech delays and consequentially lag behind in social and interactive skills, leading to more consequences.
Parents who are highly educated might want their child to grow up like them and become highly educated as well.
They might have similar or even higher expectations for their child. Such parents would need to choose to cultivate reading and other rewarding habits very early on in the life of the child, which will help the child to excel in his studies. Giving the child these learning opportunities early in life require consistent informed choices by the parents, such as choosing the right schools. Without those regular informed choices, the child falls short of his goals and the hopes his parents have for his success.
Notice how the choice to make the effort must be consistent as well as informed, because informed choices are made after a proper evaluation of all the tools, techniques, and facts needed to make them.
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Making informed choices all along the way and in every aspect also encompasses the atmosphere that pervades this child, the environment he grows in, and other factors that influence the child such as, his circle of friends. If the atmosphere that pervades the home where the child lives is not conducive for his growth, it will have a negative influence. For example, despite the desire of the parents to give their best to the child and regardless of all they do for her, contention between parents or an atmosphere of strife and tension will have a negative influence on the child’s growth and personality.
With regard to the goal, the first thing is to make sure that the parents and the child are all on the same page. If the vision and the goal of the parents for their child are not aligned with what the child wants, or if they do not complement each other, then their efforts would be defeated. So there must be common ground.
Each child being different, it is important for parents to use tools and techniques that will suit their children. Any decision made on the basis of obsolete information or inaccurate analysis would again defeat the purpose. Secondly, the effort must be consistent till the goal is attained. Although toward the later stages, less parental effort would be required, the frequent checkpoints would still be required all along the way. Many parents start off strong, set goals for their child and have a plan in place to help the child achieve the goal. They work with the child to set clear direction and provide the right tools and resources to make the goal achievable, but somewhere along the way, consciously or unconsciously, their priorities change, they lose track, and they drop the ball on the child.
When I say “drop the ball,” it isn’t that the parents don’t care anymore; it could be that they no longer choose to make the effort or find the time to make informed choices, and/or are not having those frequent checkpoints to ensure things are going smoothly and that they all are tracking towards the same end goal.
When this happens for a prolonged period, in some cases, the child may lose focus and fail to stay on track, which then comes as a surprise to the parents because they have been under the wrong illusion that things were going great. This is why, as parents, it is not enough to have the desire to see our children do well in life; it is not enough that we have the best interests in our minds and provide some initial support and guidance and then take a passive role . We have to choose to be there for them all along the way.
This brings to my mind a friend from my school days.
She was extremely talented and had great potential. Her parents had very high hopes for her and sent her to the best school, presuming that they had given her everything she needed to do well in life. Although their heart was right and they had the desire, that wasn’t good enough. It is not enough just to have a goal, which is what most folks often fail to see.
\A goal has to be accompanied by a plan that makes the goal achievable, and there should be proper checkpoints or checks and balances in place to ensure things are tracking well. One also has to be sure that the plan is not so rigid that it cannot accommodate minor changes whenever and wherever necessary.
My friend, Bubbly, did pretty well in school in the beginning.
Everyone noticed that she had great potential, but somewhere along the way, she lost her focus. She lost interest in her studies and began to fail many subjects. I knew nothing more of her story until years later. We ran into each other at a restaurant one day, and we began to catch up on our lives. Before long, we were deep in conversation, and she told me her parents were very disappointed in her and how she had failed to meet the expectations and high hopes that her family and friends had for her .
Our conversation ended with her telling me that she wanted to get her life back on track. It came as a happy surprise when we met again at the business school. I was really happy to see the change that had come upon her. We eventually both finished our MBAs and went our separate ways. For many years, I had no news from her, and I was preoccupied in my own busy life.
We met again at a friend’s party and, as we were catching up, she told me about her marriage, her short successful career, and an unfortunate series of both professional and personal failures. She expressed her feeling that her life was once again a mess. She told me that over her years of growing up, she felt neglected and grew into womanhood with a low self-esteem. The tragedy of her life was that she did not know what it was like to have a loving, trusting relationship with anyone.
Her life’s circumstances and her poor choices led to a series of terrible consequences. She informed me that, after overcoming her initial misfortunes, things had gotten better for her; her parents had became more engaged in her life and their love, support, and guidance had helped her to make some good choices and therefore she was able to get her life back on track. But soon after marriage, she lost it again. It was one thing that her parents were no longer involved in her life; another being that she was unprepared to face life’s challenges. With the greatest wishes for her triumph over her challenges, I parted from my friend once again.
Bubbly’s parents had been involved in the early stages of her life and had great plans for her, but they had lost track somewhere along the way and failed to make informed choices on a consistent basis. As parents, it is important that we choose to be cognizant of what is going on in the lives of our children. It is not enough that we have a good plan for them, we need to make consistent choices to make sure that both parties are tracking toward the same goal.
The goal doesn’t always have to be a big one.
Even if the goal is as simple as wanting the child to grow up as a God-fearing child or as a good citizen, we need to ensure that our children are mingling with the right crowd and that they are being exposed to wholesome entertainment. By choice, we must direct our efforts, time, and priorities to illustrate to our children that the parents are their companions who will always be there for them. As responsible parents, we have to choose to teach our children the core factors of any relationship, i.e., trust, love, and support by way of role modeling. I say it is a choice because it is a conscious decision that a parent has to make on a consistent basis and follow-through along the way. Knowingly or unknowingly, if the care and support are withdrawn for a prolonged period, consequences will ensue.
Children carry the burden of mistreatment and neglect throughout their lives, and their relationships may suffer. A child who is neglected could get into serious trouble and end up having many issues in life. Such a child might grow up carrying baggage for the rest of his/her life, burdening not only herself but those around her and everyone who enters into a relationship with her.
The haunting reality of the seriousness of a child’s upbringing is illustrated in the increased number of shooting events at schools. This is one of the biggest issues haunting our children and parents alike today in America. Thousands of young children go to school each day in fear, not knowing how the day will turn out to be, wondering who is going to be the next one to take to guns, and who will be the next in line to get shot. Both children and parents alike are paranoid and feel paralyzed by the uncertainty around them.
This makes it critical that we enable our children to make informed choices, by educating them on the various choices and their consequences, and helping them to be cognizant of their surroundings and instilling in them a value system that will help them choose right from wrong. Who the child grows up into will depend on the value system we choose to instill in our children, and the earlier we instill those values in them, the better.
Teaching a child to pray at a very young age and introducing him or her to the faith will give him a perspective on who God is and what to expect from God, and it will give him a perspective on right versus wrong. This will help him in his growing-up years to stay on track and not be confused. Teaching our children to lean on God during times of trouble is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to our children. It is a great thing to be able to leave a legacy for our children and our grandchildren, but not all of us may be lucky enough to be in a position to do that. But there is one thing that most of us can do: equip our children with the tools to succeed and to pass on to them the values of life and life’s lessons.
As parents we should speak blessings on our children and encourage them and build them up in order to enable them to grow into confident adults. Many parents have very rigid and conventional ideas of loving and disciplining their children, and this is seen especially in the Asian culture, where parents give little appreciation and praise. Only by way of appreciation can we build them up, if we tear them down for every little fault, they will grow up lacking in confidence, and in some cases, become incompetent.
A man or a woman who is confident and secure in who they are and who has had people build them up is more likely to form successful alliances, networks, and relationships in life. By the same token, a man or a woman who is lacking in confidence is someone who was not appreciated or built up in his growing-up years. Such a person is likely to be less successful in life and in relationships.
Parenting can be like project management.
For the project manager, the project is his “baby”, and he is held fully accountable for its success and failure. In the process of implementing a project in a corporation, he cannot afford to sit back and assume that everyone is executing his/her tasks well and that the milestones are being met on time. The project manager must be constantly on his toes, making sure that everyone is contributing at the desired level and pace, that resources are being utilized well, and that everyone in the project is empowered to make the essential decisions they need to get their job done. In addition, it is also the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that all the members are given the tools and resources needed to execute their tasks and get their job done. The project manager has a detailed project plan in place that tracks every milestone of the project and he stays on top of it to make sure there are no red flags at any given point in time and that he stays informed at all times. But if there happens to be a red flag at any given point, he needs to escalate the issue to the stakeholders and key players of the project and address them or have it addressed right away.
The project manager holds checkpoint/project status meetings to make sure that everything is on track and all/any issues raised by the team are addressed, and he brings closure to all open issues. It is crucial that the project plan has checks and balances in place to handle any unexpected turn of events. The project manager must consistently follow through until the project goes live in order for the project to be implemented successfully.
However, if at some point, the project manager chooses to ignore an issue, hoping it will merely resolve itself, and it later turns out to be a major issue that hampers the successful delivery of the project, it would be seen as a failure on the part of the project manager and the entire team. At the end of the day, it is a team effort, and the success of the project would mean the success of the team even though the major credit or discredit of its success or failure would rest on the project manager.
Clearly, like the project manager, parents must be constantly on track of what is happening in the lives of their children. Consistent self-discipline to make informed choices in every area of our life-as managers, spouses, and parents–is critical to the success of our day-to-day life. In the case of a typical IT project, there are disaster recovery plans and people in place who can jump in to resolve any unexpected issues that may arise, but when it comes to our children, no disaster recovery plan would be adequate to recoup the loss or the consequences of a wrong choice.