Leadership as a parent

I have always believed in Ghandi’s statement: “We should be the change that we want to see.”

Parenting is truly a huge responsibility and it takes leadership from within in order to raise successful kids without huge troubles.

Which parent doesn’t want our children to be honest, responsible, successful, respectful, abundant in every area of his or her life? (When I talk about abundance, it’s not just about being financially free but in other areas like health, spiritual growth, intellectual and emotional aspects as well.)

“Your actions speak so loud that I can’t hear what you’re saying,” is very much applicable in raising kids not only for teens but most especially for very young tots.

Young kids start to consciously remember what they observe even as young as 3 years old.  But they learn their values and habits way much earlier than that.

The best way for us parents not to have trouble with our teens is to follow certain leadership principles ourselves:

1)  Begin with the end in mind
This is one of Stephen Covey’s famous leadership quotations. True, if you don’t know where you want to go, you won’t know how to get there. So I suggest that you write down what you want your children to be (not in terms of what career but what kind of person) and what values you want them to acquire as early as possible. If you have the chance to mold your children’s future from the day they were born, so much the better.  This “vision” that you have for your kids will be your guide in your day to day decision-making challenges.  Example statement could be:  “I want my child to be a responsible global citizen, manifesting Christian living, generous, helpful, excellent in whatever he/she does and become the best that he/she is meant to be.”  The values I want my child to live include: unconditional love, gratitude attitude, excellence, respect for parents and elders, generosity for siblings and others, integrity.

2) You cannot give what you do not have
Leadership is not something you show.  Leadership is not leading or controlling others.  Leadership is having power over self.  Because once you do, you will exude this aura that others will be attracted to follow.  If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy.  If you want your children to put their stamp of excellence in their homework, you should be doing the extra mile in your work.  There is no shortcuts in being a parent.  You cannot hide from your children.  As a parent, we cannot preach integrity if our kids overhear us tell our spouse to lie for us: “Fred is not here yet.”

Our children see the “values at work” in our behaviors.  How we treat our neighbors, our parents, friends, workers; how we give our best in everything that we do; how we worry over nothing; how we spend our money; how we max out our credit cards; how impatient we are; how we apply delayed gratification for a bigger and better objective; how we give importance to our Creator; how we belittle the government; how much we value further education; how much reading we do; what reading materials we prefer; what words come out of our mouth; how we complain and do nothing over certain matters; how lazy or hardworking we are… all these things have an impact in the way our children’s values are formed.

With these 2 basic fundamentals, parenting is a career by itself.  Funny but it’s really life’s biggest educational flaws:  We have to study all our lives for courses to become expert on things like engineering, math, cultures, languages and arts.  But no formal educational institution teaches us a course on the most important skills in life — raising a family and personal financial planning.

Many professionals have garnered masters and PhD’s but only to have kids on drugs, children turning against parents, or being in huge debts without any idea what hit them.

I’m glad that nowadays, people have become more and more aware of this “lack” and this awareness is the first step in searching for more knowledge to make up for what we missed during the many years of formal schooling.