Winning With Our Children
“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.” – Abigail Van Buren
I don’t know where you might be reading this from right now, but I’m writing this from inside my work-space at Golden Path Academy in Loudoun County, VA. Loudoun County is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S. and the pace of life for most residents here is… well – fast. There’s even this well-known mantra within the Loudoun community which says “we’re just living at the pace of Loudoun” or, in other words, living a fast-paced life. Is being busy “bad”? Not necessarily. In fact, I love being a resident of Loudoun County. I’m a huge fan and I don’t plan on moving anytime soon. However, there seems to be a common consensus among many that “winning in life” must equate to “being busy all of the time” or, to be even more specific, making a ton of money. The goal, even for many parents, is to climb the ladder and accomplish, accomplish, accomplish. Oh, and did I mention that we’re the wealthiest county in the U.S. Yeah… No place to feel the pressure to “keep up with the joneses” like Loudoun County. Why am I writing all of this? Am I against career success or becoming wealthy? Not at all. Am I against motivated people who want to accomplish a lot of great things with their lives? Nope! I love growth and I love what we as humans can accomplish when we work hard and focus on succeeding in our goals. However, I firmly believe that sometimes, especially as parents, we might be setting the wrong goals. Before you get offended and close this page, let me just remind you that I am for you and I want you to win. Our children don’t care about our platform, or even our paycheck for that matter – they care about our presence. Don’t hear what I’m not saying – of course we all need to work hard and provide for our family, but sometimes what we need to provide even more than a nice backyard, is quality time with our little’s. We can outsource a lot of things in life – but raising our kids shouldn’t be one of them. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t put our little’s in childcare. Understandably, many of us have to work for a living (in fact, I hope you will consider sending your child here?). However, we should be intentional about protecting the times when we don’t have to be at work. If we don’t plan to be present with our kids as often as possible then we may end up giving all of our time to things far less valuable. A question that I’ve come to ask myself in life is “What do I want my kids to remember me for when I’m gone?” Honestly – while I hope to leave my kids a nice financial inheritance and a paid off house – what I want most is that they will remember me being there. Being a shoulder to lean on. Being their number one fan. Being that person who would drop literally anything in the world to help them. Being that father who provided security, love and support. More than anything else, I want my kids to remember my presence in their lives. Are there situations which warrant that a parent work two or three jobs and not “be there” as much as they would like? Of course! I’m writing this for those of us who need to pause for a moment and take inventory of what really matters in our lives. Some of us may need to start saying no to some “things” so that we can say yes to our kids much more often. Let’s remember, no one else can be mom or dad for your child – that’s a job that only you can do. If you’re like me and you want to win where it really counts, then I would like to offer you three practical tips for winning with your kids:
Give experiences instead of gifts.
Plan a trip. Go hiking. See a show… spend time together. Instead of only buying gifts for holidays or birthdays – give the gift of quality time.
Schedule quality time.
This may seem a little weird, but we schedule everything else that’s important to us in our lives. Look at your calendar two weeks at a time and block out times where you aren’t going to do anything else besides be with your family and kids (that means cells phones away?) If we don’t learn to tell our time where to go then we will push off what’s most important to attend to whatever appears most urgent.
Try to sit down and eat a meal together at least a few nights each week.