If there is a single success criterion of parenting, it is to shape up another human life into an existence that is meaningful to itself and to the world it lives in. Such a big feat neither comes with a success formula nor is an easy sail. It is done by the continual endeavor of instilling core values, helping identify core strengths, appreciating uniqueness, and creating an energizing ecosystem for the kid to blossom into a beautiful being.
From many discussions, many more suggestions on this topic, and my own ongoing experimentation with kids, I have come to realize that a few simple practices, tricks, habits, and philosophies lay a strong foundation towards a positive outcome.
Parenting is one of those loosely defined, yet complex responsibilities. There is no one-best-way. It can neither be taught nor be learned, in one go. Parenting can only be honed through constantly refined experimentation.
There are some parenting techniques that click and there are some that fail. Here is a list of the ones that I work on:
Real people are powerful influencers.
Real people, living personalities, real stories have a lasting and powerful impact. My kids have drawn more inspiration from watching videos, reading biographies of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Magnus Carlsen, Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt, and Elon Musk.
It makes them believe that we could shape our lives the way we want, give them the conviction to dream in something that is traditionally categorized as impossible.
Life is about choices — and seeing the result of the choices people made is a valuable lesson learned from other’s experiences, lives.
Interest can be turned into a passion.
Once I figure out something of my kid’s interest (something they love to do for hours together, something that they want to wake up to do first thing in the morning), I create themed spaces. It is as simple as setting up a 2×4 table with just one theme (drawing, chess, or legos), or carving a separate reading space in a room.
It enables them to stay in one zone, one theme for longer periods(4–6 hours). The long hours they spend in a zone of their choice, the better they become.
Stories of success that follow struggles.
I have learned that fairy tale “happily ever after” endings have a reason to be that way.
Any movie, book that perseverance results in success are an inspiration. Books like The Little Engine That Could and Oh, the Places You Could Go just light up their eyes every time.
Do not treat kids as task-takers; give them ownership.
A project like work is more enticing, fulfilling, and has more impact than tasks.
Even as simple as asking kids to “make the living room look clean” is more inviting than asking them to “pick up trash”. The former lets them both plan and execute and makes them feel the responsibility (and being the boss) whereas the latter makes them feel as if they are task-takers.
Reinforce habits and values. Life cannot be lived “ANY” way.
At home, practice good values and values. Values are instilled through repeated reminders — I have seen success from choosing to reiterate, reinforce only 1–2 things at any given time.
Always treat others the way you want to be treated. Never waste things. Good deeds bring back good gifts. People are more important than things.
Habits are picked up from parents: Kids who grow up in well-kept, clean homes tend to grow into adults who maintain tidy wardrobes, offices, and homes.
Respect their perspectives.
Involving kids early on, in family discussions on topics like money, politics, investments makes them more aware, helps them develop a sense of how life spans out. They also know to anticipate ups and downs, rosy days and thorny days, good choices, and bad choices.
After watching a documentary on Theranos, my kids repeatedly asked us what was the right thing to do, and what the CEO did was just try and failed. We watched Tiger King as a family and the question of whether tiger captivity is a good or bad thing on a big discussion topic.
It is interesting how kids see good and bad in one thing at the same time.
Value their company. Give them the gift of time.
The best gift we can give kids is our time and attention, both. Observe them, talk to them, ask them, discuss with them. More importantly, ask them for suggestions. I have, at times, asked them for suggestions to some bothering problems and sometimes received the most honest, grounded answers.
Treat them as your best company and they will prove it that your time is worthier than you would anticipate.
One of the biggest measures of life is how successful and humane our kids become. There is so much more that will play into what our kids will turn out to be.
If we, parents, do our part right, to the best of our abilities in building the right foundation, we would most likely end up feeling proud that we are leaving behind grown-ups who make their lives worthy of living this wonderful life!
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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