Tuesday, May 6, 2014

3 Ways to Prepare Your Child for LIFE

As I watched my five year old daughter sleep this morning, I was overwhelmed with the momentous task of having to prepare her for this world. I know she is sheltered and safe here. I remembered all of my experiences over the thirty years I've lived on this earth, and suddenly I realized she will soon be living a life of her own.

I reflected on what has shaped me and helped me achieve success in life and everything pointed to three basic foundations that guided my choices through my teenage years and as an adult. It can be a scary thought to have to let go of your children, but if you instill these basic principles in their childhood years, they'll be okay! Hey, my mom is not the perfect parent either. The little things won't matter so much, but it's these things that will guide them. 

Give Them a Moral Compass

It may be popular to just let your kids try everything. But you would be doing them a great disservice if you don't teach them right from wrong. Wise from foolish. People without a concrete moral compass end up with drug overdoses, alcohol addiction, teenage pregnancies, and other life-sucking moments. Incidentally, while my parents taught me basic morals, they were not the ones that provided me with a moral compass. It's something that I thankfully acquired when we moved to the U.S. and I started regularly attending a Christian congregation. Was it a group of perfect saints that got together every Sunday? No. They were real people with real struggles. But I thank God that through them and the Bible He has created a solid moral compass in my life. Sorry if I'm getting too religious for you, but this is the number one reason that's kept me from making stupid mistakes in my life. 

As a teenager I wasn't sheltered. My parents let me have my own experiences. I've been in many situations where I was one step away from making great mistakes that would have prevented me from being where I am today. If it wasn't for that moral compass - I would likely not be here today, or I'd be enduring a pretty dismal existence. 

Invest in THEM, Not Their College Fund

College tuition is a joke. Paying for an education so that you can spend the rest of your life paying off your loans makes little sense. Hey, I'm still paying mine. My education did not make me a happier or a more successful person. I'm not even using my degree at the moment. But I am really thankful my parents invested in my passions and my childhood. I now realize those piano lessons, art lessons, camps, and mentorships were really priceless. They could not afford paying for my college tuition, I've had to rely on financial aid, scholarships, and loans. Only now I realize college wasn't a necessity as everyone made it seem.

Yes, college can be necessary depending on your chosen profession. For some people it may be a worthwhile investment. In this day and age however, with ever changing technology and world circumstances, there is more wisdom in investing in your child now - not when they are 18. It's too late then. Look carefully at what they are passionate about, what do they love to do? Invest in developing their talents and giving them an opportunity to explore new ones. I was inspired by these parents

Invest in music and art, things that may be less tangible but have a profound impact on the creativity and resilience of your growing child. Invest in relationships that will last beyond their schooling years. It's not a secret that positive relationships enhance our lives in many ways. 

It's also so important to let your children see the world! Yes, travel is expensive, but it will be a far better investment than college. They need to see how other people live. They need to be aware of the history of countries, empires, and fallen civilizations. History and culture teaches us so many intangible things. I would definitely not be the person I am today if I didn't have the travel experiences of my teenage years. So thankful my parents spent money on that and thankful to the people that sponsored me on missionary trips, they were truly life changing. 

Love Unconditionally

Last but not least, love them no matter what. It's easier to do now. They spill milk, you love them anyway. They draw with permanent marker on the wall, you love them anyway. It will get a little harder when they are older. They crash your car, you love them anyway. They come home smelling of cigarettes, you love them anyway. Your love will make them feel guiltier than any punishment. It's much harder for your kids to upset someone who loves them than someone who constantly nags, yells, or generally annoys them. 

I didn't give my parents much trouble. Yes there were some instances. I truly believe one of the reasons I was an 'easy child' is because I always felt their unconditional love for me. However I know people, friends, family, that did not have that type of relationship with their parents and thus it caused much heartache for everyone involved. Even now as adults it haunts them that they aren't loved for one reason or another. 

Love does not equal always giving them what they want. It's showing them that our relationship is more important than having things we may desire. 

Fill your children's lives with unconditional love and they'll turn out alright. 

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What tips do you have for preparing your child for life?


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