What if you met your child 25 years from today? Based on their actions and behavior so far, what type of person would they be? What kind of role would they play in the circle of life? What type of job would they hold? More importantly, what is the WHY behind the type of job they have chosen? Why do they do what they do? Have they chosen their role in life because they feel confident and self-reliant? Or, is it because they believe it is the card they were dealt? Have they chosen their job because it is represents how they want to express themselves or because it was the expression of someone else? Have they been prepared for their future and the decisions they are making in life? Or has their upbringing been a random act of reactions based on the current skills that are in their sphere of influence today?
Most of us would probably read the questions above and say there is a right and wrong answer. There truly is not! However, there is probably a more assured path to aligning our parenting style with the decisions and actions we take to what we believe our purpose and intention is in their upbringing. I would be pretty confident in saying that we all want our children to become healthy, caring individuals who are incredibly happy in their lives. I’d also bet that many parents and guardians believe they are raising their children to become that; healthy, caring individuals who hopefully will be happy in their lives. Perhaps you even have a vision for them of becoming a doctor or some other form of practitioner, maybe taking over the family business. Or perhaps you envision your child having a different life than you had and making sure they do not encounter some of the difficulties you have been through. I understand that all of these aspirations are born out of dreams you have for them and motivated out of your immense love for them. So, let’s ask two questions that will help us to gain clarity on our intention and therefore our motive for how we are raising our children.
1) Do you have vision for the type of person you want your child to become?
This question ‘Do you have a vision for the type of person’ is asked to help bring clarity in our thinking about the ‘way’ we are picturing what we want our child to become; to gain some clarity in our mind about what we are trying to co-create with our child. If you chose a vision that describes the qualities of what you intend for your child to become – you have chosen a vision that will allow for a lot of flexibility in cooperation, partnering and making decisions for and with your child. This approach for visioning would represent raising your child with ideals in mind. Therefore the path you will have chosen allows for your child’s individuality, creativity and self-expression to manifest through the ideals you have inspired for them. If you chose a more definitive vision, such as a doctor or tight-rope walker, you will have chosen a vision that is more limiting in the flexibility of your decision making and there for could significantly limit the amount of cooperation you will receive from your child in their upbringing – except for the time it is exactly what they want as well. This limitation is not due to the fact that you don’t have ideals in mind, because you can. Even the same ideals can exist in both scenarios. However, the flexibility your child will have in bringing their own individuality and self-expression to the vision you hold for them will be so limited that the odds of creating the outcome you had hoped will be highly reduced. It is likely the child’s motive will then change from co-creating common ideals with you to finding an avenue of self-expression that allows for their individuality to be heard.
See – Creating an Ideal-Based Vision at the end of this article.
The second question is asked to bring clarity to our hearts about the way we are going about it.
2) Are you basing ALL of the decisions you are making, as your child’s mentor, on that vision knowing each decision has an influence on the beliefs they are creating about themselves?
What are our behavior and our attitude with ourselves and with our children in the actions we take; especially as we make decisions. Are the decisions you are making being driven out of an emotion that has something to say about the way it used to be for you such as, “my parents did it and I turned out ok,” or are you able to step back and make detached decisions that align with the vision you have created for your child?
In the early years, our children will have a set of experiences of which they will make decisions to form beliefs about themselves. These beliefs will then become the roots of their core belief system in which they will base many of their own decisions for many years to come. We do the same. We base most of our own decisions out of beliefs we have established about ourselves. The downfall is the belief was created out of the decision made on one pattern of experiences that many times has no relationship to the decision we are trying to make today. So, the decision we make today ends up supporting the belief we created about our past experience instead of supporting the belief we say we are wanting to create for today, or the future.
This is where having a set of Ideals in Mind for our children helps us to guide and monitor the choices we are making as we raise them. Putting ideals in place as our pathway gives us the opportunity to base decision-making on a current or future outcome. When we have nothing to guide us to a new outcome the likelihood that we will react based on our own past experience becomes very high and also initiates the old family pattern. As this occurs we are now working against the very thing we said we wanted to do differently.
Having a set of Ideals in Heart for our children helps us to monitor how we are doing with the choices we are making on a regular basis. Children are remarkable at giving immediate feedback. If children aren’t giving us their feedback with the words they are communicating it in their own behavior. As we have ideals in place we now have a monitoring system for our conscious parenting abilities. We can now observe that as our children make decisions we can see how well they are using the qualities we have been teaching them and what areas continue to need more work and improvement for them, and for ourselves. Without such a system in place we can continue to blame any negative or undesirable outcome on our own past experience or the parenting style in which we were raised. I believe one of the most challenging things about acquiring the ability to teach something to someone else is that in order to fully and truthfully teach it to them we must first experience and learn it for ourselves. In those moments we learn what it takes to experience, communicate and integrate it into our own lives. Only then have we found the ability to offer (teach) it to another; especially our children. This is also why aligning our mind and heart is such a critical success factor in teaching ideals. We can talk all we want about what values are and how to live them (which is a mental activity we need to know) but they must be brought into integrity through our actions and modeled in our behavior (which is an emotional activity that stems from our heart).
After getting the above two questions in place and as you begin to integrate them into your parenting style and your way of life there is now a most important step. You must insure that all of the work you are putting forth with your children is being supported by making any necessary changes in your child and your families’ environments that do not reflect the ideals and values you are trying to uphold. I like to refer to these environments as Spheres of Influence. Anywhere that your child, and your family, spend significant or regular amounts of time have an influence on what they are learning.
The first environment to look over is your child’s bedroom and then the rest of your home. Does your child’s room and home reflect the values you are teaching them or are there contradictions in the message you are delivering to them? Be sure to include not only sleeping and play areas but also the food you are serving, morning and bedtime rituals and the way the family spends time together. Nothing will invalidate your work more quickly than to send a child mixed messages.
The other environments I will refer to are not limited to your home but also typically include establishments such as schools, daycares, play facilities, park visits, etc. and also include people such as close family members, baby sitters, neighbors and other daycare providers. Think of it like a clock. If your child has 14 hours in their waking day and they spend 6 hours of that time with you they have 8 remaining hours in which they are being influenced by other s and their surroundings. Are these 8 hours of time that is spent out of your sphere of influence being filled with the experiences and messages that support the ideals you are trying to mentor your child toward? If not, you might want to consider what adjustments can be made to ensure your child is receiving a common message that supports the values you are teaching in all of their environments and significantly limiting any time that is not. Some of these changes can take place over night and others take varying periods of time to change. Some will be easy to adjust and others may have significant challenges to them. All are worth tackling.
Take into consideration the journey you are taking is not always easy. It is your work and it is your child’s work. While it is often challenging, gain all of the support you can by sharing the values you are mentoring your child to and the expectations you have from those in your environments. This is the most important job/role you will ever have to do. When people or establishments don’t have what it takes to help you fulfill that vision, change it! You wouldn’t keep a non-productive employee in a role at your business if they couldn’t do the job – why would you do it with your child?
I love the saying from someone who created many, many beautiful masterpieces of work and love ending this article with this quote:
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
~ Michelangelo ~
Creating an Ideal-Based Vision for your child:
1) Find a period of time which can be accompanied by a soft piece of instrumental music.
2) Spend some time dreaming about the TYPE of person you want your child to become?
- How do they go about living their life?
- How do they make decisions?
- What kinds of things do they think about? Why?
- What is important as they decide how they want to contribute in life?
3) After your visioning, journal your thoughts and any words, pictures or activities that come to mind.
4) Put a favorite picture if your child in the center of a piece of paper/or card board.
5) Write the Ideals (words) around your child’s picture like a mind map, decorating them if you chose. Or, you may want to create a vision board by cutting out words or pictures that help remind you of the ideals want to teach them.
6) Put the picture somewhere you can see it every morning you wake – encouraging you to keep these ideals in mind as you co-create with your child each day.
Watch for more on this topic coming in a publication from PARENTAL WISDOM (www.parentalwisdom.com)