Parenting is a difficult and fulfilling task and we often wonder whether, beyond the love, education, and material things we give our children, we are also able to equip them with meaningful tools for life. There are truths that as parents we have learned and are still learning from our experience in life, and we want to pass it on to the younger generation, but we don’t always know where to begin and where to incorporate such insights into everyday life.
In order to help, I decided to share with you 15 important insights and judgments about approach, effort, and the importance of choosing friends, and many more essential things that your children should know.
Our children must learn how to make the right choices for themselves without our help. As parents, we can guide them by example, but soon they’ll become adults with lives of their own. We have the opportunity to walk alongside them but not in their shoes, so this lesson is also important to us as parents who need to learn how to let our children be independent, by teaching them how to think and not what to think.
We, as parents, strive to protect our children and guard them from fear that something bad will happen to them if we aren’t near them, but for their personal benefit we must challenge them to do things that are difficult and frustrating, even if they are no less frightening to us. Every beginning, change and effort has a difficulty that must be overcome in order to become stronger - whether it is walking alone to school or coping with criticism from a teacher. Be supportive, make sure they know that you’ll help in a moment of distress but let them also deal with fear and learn that they can overcome and feel pride in themselves.
The correct approach is often the difference between a life of frustration and dissatisfaction and a life with meaning and happiness. We can’t control our reality or other people, but we can - with constant effort - control how we respond to these things. It is important to say that this is a principle that we must implement ourselves as parents before we pass it on to our children.
A great piece of advice that you can adopt and instill in your child is to write a "gratitude" diary, where you both note the things you value most in your life. These things can be both small and big. This activity isn’t casual or meaningless, but rather a method that has been proven to make people happier and more optimistic, and even reduces the chance that they will develop various illnesses in comparison to people who have not written such a diary.
Beyond the moments of joy and laughter that are limited in time, teach your children that continuous, deep happiness is one that comes from finding meaning in our lives. When we have a goal, and when we feel that our lives are creating change in the world, even if it is small, we find happiness in our existence. In this situation, our ability to deal with difficulty and obstacles is much greater than in a life without meaning.
A negative focus causes us to perpetuate it and give it more destructive power in our lives, which grows more and more. To stay away from thoughts about what is bothering us and causing us pain, we must focus on the good things that exist in our world or the ones we aspire to. Teach your children to think about it like a scale - the more weight they place on the good and the positive, the more value their lives will have.
Good things usually come after great effort, and probably if they were easy to get we would appreciate them less. It is our willingness to work hard for the things we strive for that gives them more meaning as soon as we achieve them and creates new opportunities in life - thanks to the skills we’ve gained and things we’ve learned about ourselves and the people we will encounter during the effort.
Uncertainty brings with it frustration, and part of our personal development is to deal with moments when we do not know or aren’t satisfied with what is going to happen. When our children learn to act despite uncertainty, they won’t miss out on many things that come only to those who take risks. Not knowing what might have happened if we had given something a chance is worse than giving a chance to find out we'd been wrong.
There is a big difference between knowing how to do something and doing it, and it is important that you understand that knowledge is important and necessary for your child's life, but it doesn’t contribute much if it isn’t accompanied by persistence. Even the smartest professor won’t discover an innovative cure for the disease without conducting daily research, full of delays and uncertainty. This is why you should remember to praise your children first of all for their efforts - because that is what will help them grow.
Our children can’t plan their entire future and there is no reason why they should. What they like today is not what will attract their attention tomorrow. What they can do now is focus on things that can benefit them in the future - no matter what it is. These things can be reading books, learning languages or engaging in sports - and in fact any tool that will give them the possibility of a fuller and better future.
There are moments when our children and we prefer to be idle and engage in things that don’t require much thought from us, such as watching television or browsing one social network or another. What is important to remember is that the time we invest in these activities accumulates and becomes particularly long, without us gaining anything significant. We as parents should encourage our children to make small steps every day in meaningful activities that will lead them to empowering experiences over time. Even if progress is slow and difficult, it is still progress.
Our goal as parents is to be positive role models for our child, but the efforts made to be a good example are those that will bring about a positive change, as opposed to the goal itself. Just as a writer who aspires to write a bestseller is said to be going nowhere until he sits down and begins to write and rewrite his words over and over again. A goal without action achieves nothing, and therefore it is best to teach our children that if they, and we, persist in our actions we will reach achievements even if we haven’t set a super, distant goal.
Every time someone gives someone else an opportunity like in work or love, the greatest fear is that that person will prove unreliable. Educate your children to be trustworthy people with integrity, not only because it is the right thing to do but also because they’ll have a good name that’ll carry them up and move them forward in life.
We want our children to be in relationships that will help them and not hurt them - the secret lies in the choices they make about friends and in the future, their partner. Advise them to surround themselves with people who reflect the person they aspire to be and not waste their time on people with negative energy. The support, the love, and the esteem they will receive from their immediate surroundings - will change their ability to cope with the world and give them meaning and comfort.
Our children need to know that they don’t need everyone's approval in life. Teach them to ignore and even stand up for themselves in a respectful way, against anyone who questions their nature and judges them unfairly - no matter how much they try to prove themselves differently. There are moments when one has to deal with a person’s dissatisfaction and we have to remind ourselves that we are all right, even if not everyone likes us and sees us for who we really are.