We all know parenting is one of the most difficult tasks in life. Shaping a child's future, nurturing them, while still trying to give them space for independence is not the easiest balancing act.
I was shaped by observing my parents. They did speak words of nurture, guidance, and correction to me, but I took in everything they did. They were both entrepreneurs, and this really inspired me. I liked how they worked really hard but always made time to socialize and have fun with their friends and social clubs.
They worked together but also had independent businesses, each giving the other space and respect to be their authentic selves.
My mom exuded poise, beauty, grace, and confidence and did not shy away from expressing herself with words. My dad was confident but quiet in demeanor and said few words. They complemented each other. My dad never dimmed my mom's light in any way. Neither of them had a college education, but they were well respected among their peers and in society because of their success in entrepreneurship and their abundant leadership skills. Their life education superseded their lack of college education.
This is what I saw as a kid growing up. A strong, beautiful mom who stood on her own, held on to her own identity, worked hard, and was financially independent. A dad whose strength was in his humility, respect, and gentleness toward his wife. A dad who was always there for his wife and kids—emotionally, socially, and financially.
I took it all in and subconsciously longed to be an entrepreneur like them. Subconsciously longed to be a strong woman who would own her own destiny. There were a few surprises along the way, as you already know, but I quickly got myself back up after my divorce and got right back on my life path and my life purpose.
We as adults and parents have the responsibility to influence our kids by example. Words are great, but if you're teaching them what you're not practicing or at least striving for, those efforts may be futile.
I'm all for spending time with our children, but as women, we must be careful of using this excuse indefinitely. Every woman must have some worth and life purpose outside of tending to her kids and husband. Your kids need to see you using your gifts to make a difference in the community and the world on a small or large scale. This is how we build strong kids and youth for the future. By them seeing us do what we are preaching.
I was home with my older sister and house helps a lot while my parents were at work or out socializing. This didn't adversely affect me. It instead strengthened me and prepared me to be a leader. I don't know what my mentality would have been if all I saw was a mom who only stayed home to clean, cook, and tend to us and my dad and had nothing else going on for herself. I don't know because that's not what I grew up around. My mom cooked when she could, but house helps and cooks did most of it, as well as cleaning our home and doing laundry. There was lots of help around to make her roles of mom, wife, and entrepreneur work for her.
Studies have shown that having a working mother works for daughters. This Harvard study below finds daughters of moms in paid employment have better careers and more equal relationships: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/24/having-a-working-mother-works-for-daughters
Obviously, the same applies to our sons. We must equip them to be leaders. Leaders who are confident but with a good dose of humility. Hardworking men who also live lives of balance. Strong men who preserve their authentic selves.
I was struck by the number of young men and women I met at the United Nations at my recent event. Youth and young adults owning their own, emerging experts in their career fields, some already partners in firms or even business owners, working hard, dreaming dreams, and going all in at those dreams. I had a conversation with a few of them. A few interviewed me, and I was truly touched and inspired by these young adults. I was filled with hope for our future world.
We must all be mindful of raising leaders. We must guide and nurture our children as they find their own voices, discover their gifts, and grab their own independence.
The best way is by living out that example they need to see. We cannot plan to live vicariously through our children's success in life. We must carve out our own purposes in life first, and they must see us doing it.
The next is by our words. Words last in our souls. Stand by your word as parents. Don't get misled by the existing culture where parents become slaves to their own kids. Stand your ground. Speak the truth to your kids. The truth is often hard to hear, but they'll thank you in later years.
And then prayer covers all of these. We must continuously and persistently pray for our children.
Let us build up kids who will become leaders. Even if they get off their paths from time to time because of influences beyond our control, they will recalibrate and get right back on their life paths and purposes.
The three steps above are the way to do it: be an example, stand by your words and speak truth, and pray.
We can only be permanently happy if our kids are being groomed to be leaders. Leaders who will shape our future.