A Better Next Generation
Every generation should be concerned with paving the way for a better world for the next. That is one reason why as parents we strive to provide our children with the foundation for success. It is the people in our world that mold what society becomes, and growth is only possible if each person takes responsibility for their part in it. When we teach our children not only to dream, but to take active steps to make those dreams a reality, we provide them the ability to be a contributor to society instead of a drain.
Just as a mother bird first provides for her baby and then kicks it out of the nest, so must we as parents provide the “feathers” that our children need for flight. It would be so much easier for that baby bird to come back to the nest when times get tough, but mama bird would not allow it because she knows she has given the baby all it needs to prosper and it is up to them now. That is not to say that as a parent of an adult child that you would deny them a roof over their head if they truly needed it, but that should be the exception to the rule, and it will be if you have truly taught them how to dream, set goals and hustle to accomplish them. Each part of that process is an important step and thus none should be overlooked or minimized.
Without dreams one can never hope to achieve much of anything. If someone is content exactly where they are, they will never work to gain more. That may be fine when you have accomplished everything you set out to, but it is the kiss of death for a young person just beginning their life. Children seem to be born with a natural sense of wonder and imagination, yet all too often their curious nature is squelched. They are forced into societal expectations, often with directions that have no more explanation than the proverbial, “Because I said so!” It is well and good to learn boundaries in the process of learning acceptable verses unacceptable behavior, but keeping children from thinking outside the box as they so naturally do is a huge mistake.
Yes, those “why” questions can be tedious, but answering them or helping them to find the answers they seek is a better way to nurture their imagination and help them learn about the world in which they live. You just might learn a few things in the process and since learning should always be a lifetime activity that is a really good thing. Avoid showing discontent when they are seeking answers or you run the risk of teaching them that they shouldn’t ask questions, when the truth is that we should all ask questions, all the time, rather than become lemmings that blindly follow whatever charismatic authority stands before us.
The bottom line is that we cannot achieve that which we cannot envision. To dream is a vital part of the rewarding and contributing life that you desire for your children and for the whole next generation.
A strong leader needs to envision the dream, but that in itself is not enough. When Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream,” back on August 28, 1963, he did not just sit back and dream. He took steps to enrich the world with that dream. He had goals – he wanted to put an end to geographical segregation and to motivate African Americans to stand up for their rights and not just accept injustice. He believed that non-violent protests could create change and he shared that goal with the world.
If you want to give your children the power that comes from putting a dream into action, you must teach them how to successfully set goals that are in line with what they wish to accomplish. Just as King encouraged hard work to overcome poverty, everyone has to have the foundation to work to achieve things rather than hope to be handed what they need. It is quite obvious to see that this is a huge problem in our current society. There are far too many individuals that look for the easy way, for the handout, for what they can take from someone else. This has paved the way for greed, corruption and laziness that was not as prevalent in past generations as it is today.
The only way this tide can be reversed is if today’s parents focus on teaching goal setting and the rewards of achieving things yourself. The danger if we don’t is financial ruin for our country when there are more people putting a drain on the system than there are people to support them. In time those that are doing the supporting will become disenchanted and rebel, resulting in more and more of a deficit.
Teaching your child how to set goals to achieve their dreams gives them the foundation they need to gain confidence and self-respect. Problem solving skills are critical to overcoming challenges and moving forward even when something doesn’t go exactly right.
How to Hustle
If you have ever started your day with a to-do list, you know that just putting something on a list does nothing for getting it crossed off as completed. While setting goals is critical, it is action that makes them happen. We can dream all we want, set goals all we want, but until we come up with a definitive plan of action and put it in motion, nothing is accomplished. For example, you can have a dream of losing weight, set a goal of 1-2 pounds a week, but if you do not change your diet or activity level, you’ll stay at the same weight indefinitely.
There are numerous times in your child’s life that you will have the opportunity to take them through the dream>goal>hustle routine. Be watchful for those times when they express a desire for something and then sit down and help them develop the goals and action plan to make it a reality.
A helpful tool for accomplishing this is a cork and whiteboard planner with three sections. Help them come up with a picture or hand-drawn representation of their dream and have them affix it on the cork section. Then use the first whiteboard to list goals and the second whiteboard for actions. By making this process both visible and fun, your child will be on the path to success not only for this one dream to be achieved but for everything they desire throughout their life. If you use a board like this for yourself as well, you’ll be showing them by example just how important this is to you. Children love to emulate their parents, so get started with doing this even when they are very young. They’ll benefit and so will you! You will have done your part to ensure the next generation is on the right path.