“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NLT)
My daughter decided that she wanted to be a doctor in 10th grade. Vanessa officially became a first year medical student a few days ago. My husband and I sat speechless as we watched her walk across the stage during the White Coat Ceremony at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University (FIU). The dean had asked all the parents to stay seated during the ceremony, but I blatantly disobeyed to stand at the edge of the balcony taking pictures. It was a once in a lifetime moment. It was also a moment that my husband and I realized that our hands-on parenting days were coming to a close.
In my blog post “Working Parents DO Have It All”, I wrote about the challenges of working while parenting. If I were to write a book now about how to be a thriving parent, these three principles would be in the table of contents:
Establish Consistency. A consistent bedtime, meal time, and general weekly schedule is imperative. Even more important are the core values underlying your family’s schedule. For us, we established education as a key value. Education included academics, sports, fine arts, and spiritual growth. Translated into everyday life that meant that Zachary and Vanessa focused on school, playing a sport, taking music lessons, and going to church. Being a consistent parent wasn’t always easy. In fact, being a consistent parent was down right hard at times. But the end result was that our kids thrived with consistency.
Apply Pressure. We learned not to smooth every bump in the road for our kids or abandon our expectations when our kids felt like life was too hard. I remember Zachary’s fear of playing in his first guitar recital. He decided afterwards that he didn’t want to take music lessons any more. To that, we explained to him again that music lessons were a priority. He struggled with playing in recitals for a few years. But, he survived. Today, Zach is a lead vocalist, guitarist, and worship leader at Trinity Church. Allow your children to experience challenges, disappointments, and stressful situations knowing that learning to be resilient under pressure is as important as classroom learning.
Model Optimism. Life can be challenging. The child who learns how to look at life through the lens of optimism will be more resilient. Cultivating an optimistic point of view is actually beneficial for all of us. According to a longitudinal study of Harvard students over a 35 year period, optimists were significantly healthier than pessimists throughout life. The study also found that optimists tend to be more resilient when difficulties arise, believing that they will be able to overcome.
Being a thriving parent takes time, energy, and fortitude. I am a thriving parent!