In preparation for a recent magazine interview, my wife, Laura Gauld, recently wrote up five simple guidelines for parents to consider as they go about the business of raisiing their kids. After receiving her permission (!), I thought I’d post them here:
1. Understand your job as parents – This is the foundation of parenting. Like any job, one must understand the duties and responsibilities that go along with this biggest job of all. Most of the unproductive issues that we get into stem from the role we want to play in our child’s life rather than accepting the role we need to play. We are the parents. We can have friendly moments with our children but we are not their friends, not until they no longer need us as their parents.
2. Raise children to be accountable to life – We have only a short time to instill the values and principles that will assist our children in putting their lives together. If we tie them to us, we may not be able to fully teach the lessons that life requires. We must try not to do for them what they can do for themselves. Life will not treat them like their mother so sometimes we need to view them as someone else’s child. Most importantly, allow them the same struggles that helped shape us and prepare us for the challenges of adulthood.
3. Build family traditions – The big picture of raising children is done with the actions, routines and practices that make up lifetime memories, habits and character. It is never too late to start a family tradition and often the value of these actions is seen looking back at one’s upbringing. Read. Write thank-you notes. Light candles at the table. Value and expect manners. Teach a firm handshake and eye contact and always call the other parents.
4. Have faith in your child’s unique potential and the larger forces at work – Every child has a unique contribution to make in the world. We must believe in that potential even if we cannot understand it and we must allow the larger forces (people, faith) to play their role in our child’s journey. Resist labels. Allow others to challenge your child. Let go of yesterday and tomorrow and hold on to both the reality and highest vision you have for your child. Remember, you may not always see the teacher in your child’s life.
5. Your growth will be your true legacy to your child – We will be parents until we breathe our last breath. As Jung states in his powerful quote, “The greatest impact on children are the unlived lives of adults.” Our growth will trump any successes and talents that we think will inspire them. Lead by example. Respect your best self by taking risks in order to grow. Let go of perfection and take hold of excellence. Your most important job is to inspire your child.
Onward (and Thanks, Laura!), Malcolm Gauld