Example 1: William struggled all the way through school. He just scraped through Year 12 with a pass and then took his time deciding on a career jumping from University to TAFE to overseas travel and back to TAFE. His parents were wondering what on earth was happening. At 27 he opened his own catering company; he employs a dozen people and has surprised his parents with his entrepreneurial spirit, his business savvy and his willingness to work long hours.
Example 2: Joanne was the perfect child in primary school. She was a straight A’s student who always tried to please.
During secondary school she changed dramatically. Struggling with her parents’ separation, she left school and eventually left home to live with her boy friend’s parents. As a 24 year old mum she returned to university part-time and is now nearly finished a teaching degree. She’s also patched up her relationship with her parents.
Example 3: Twenty-six year old Tyler gave his parents grief all through secondary school. A high risk-taker with an addictive personality Tyler drifted through his late teens and early 20’s. Binge-drinking was just one of his problems. In his mid 20’s he began a plumber’s apprenticeship with his father. As a 30something he now employs his father who is scaling back on his business. How life has changed?
These are great parenting stories, but it’s the story behind each story that’s important.
In each case as children or as young people there was struggle but in the end there was a breakthrough.
None of the breakthroughs came as ‘Road to Damascus moments’ where the right path as suddenly revealed. The young people just worked through what they had to work through before they took their rightful place in the world.......and in each case, finally grew up.
Each young person had these four things in common:
1. They were taught solid values of citizenship, self-regulation and work ethic when they were in the malleable primary school years. These so called ‘opportunity years’ are the time to develop in kids the qualities they will revisit later on.
2. They had at least one adult in their lives that they stayed connected to when they moved through the turbulent times of adolescence and their early twenties. The power of one adult (whether parent, sparent, teacher or coach) can’t be under-estimated.
3. They had parents who didn’t give up on them even though two of these examples they treated their parents with extreme contempt at times.
4. Each young person took their own path to adulthood, which was very different to the path that was mapped out by their parents.
These stories undoubtedly demonstrate that parenting is for the long game, not the short game. While most of us struggle with day-to-day problems and dilemmas it's important to keep the long-term in mind when thinking how best to raise your kids.
Long game strategies include:
- Not compromising on doing right thing, by allowing kids to do the easy thing!
- Helping kids like themselves.
- Helping them to be ‘generalists’ rather than ‘specialists’ so they can find their own strengths and interests.
- Avoiding give the job of coaching your kids through their problems to someone else unless they won’t listen to you.
- Not foisting your ambitions on them.
- Fostering their dreams and not being a dream-crusher.
- Keeping your expectations high, and not accepting second-best.
- Allowing kids to fix their little problems so they develop their own resourcefulness for later on.
- Using consequences to develop self-regulation
- Arguing over the important stuff and avoiding fighting over the minor issues.
- Knowing what the minor issues are.
These are just a few strategies for parenting for the long game. I’d love to know your long game strategies and ideas. Let me know via Facebook about you long-game strategies.
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