Mom Power: 5 Ways to Influence a Child's Future


It is our responsibility only to set the stage for our child's future. We can help prop them up, provide resources for them to prepare and set them off to work hard. Other than that, we can’t do the performance for them.

If we don’t set the stage for our child’s future, who will?

A recent article in The Atlantic sparked my curiosity regarding the involvement of parents in schools and how it affects a child’s academic success. What the article concluded was something that I had firmly believed long ago —

At some point, one that we have no idea when or how, our child makes their own choice to either succeed or not succeed in school. Our influence has lost its power.

It’s a terrifying thought really. Especially when we live in a culture that extolls the virtues of parents being so involved in their children’s lives that cell phones are being called “the world’s longest umbilical cords” and helicopter parenting is a household term.

Setting a stage, to me, is a much better metaphor (and I do love my metaphors, ask my kids). Everything is in place, the lighting is just so, and the performance has to go on whether the props fall down or forget their lines. When they prepare appropriately, work hard during the performance, they will receive the reward — applause and accolades. Maybe even flowers thrown on the stage! Bravo!

Our child’s future is much the same. We can help prop them up, provide resources for them to prepare and set them off to work hard. Other than that, we can’t do the performance for them. They have to make that choice. If we do too much for them, they can feel inadequate and insecure once those curtains open in life.

Here are a few ways you can set the stage for child’s future:

1. A strong foundation.  A child’s family life, day in and day out is where parents have the most influence. Steady and simple builds strong and unshakable foundations for a child. Focusing on just this aspect of a child’s life is most impactful.

2. Predictable expectations.  What’s going to happen if I _______? It’s our job to help our kids learn the skill of filling in that blank everyday. When they are little, we say it all the time, “If you don’t help with the dishes, you can’t watch TV.” Later, they will hear our voices in their heads for much larger issues. We can give reasonable expectations very, very lovingly.

3. Available resources. We have the choice to provide the best possible resources for our child to learn and thrive. Sometimes we might have to sacrifice other things in order to ensure they are getting what they need, rather than what they want. Sometimes that can be our own popularity with our child. Showing them what is more important and where to place their energy and resources pays off in building a stage for a lifetime of good priorities.

4. Challenging work. Self-esteem is gained from achievement, not from someone telling you how wonderful you are all the time. Our society is full of people who feel they deserve more than what they have, yet are not willing to work to receive it. By giving our children chances to work hard and feel the rewards and pitfalls of a hard task, we are putting their self-esteem in solid footing.

5. Opportunities to fail.  Watching, even encouraging them to fail every now and then shows our kids that life goes on. We still love them and can help wash the wounds of life, but letting them “venture” to “gain” is crucial in loving them wholly. Protecting them from failure as a young child lowers their self-confidence. Practicing failure in a loving environment of a family home is an awesome place to get good perspective and support through life’s inevitable disappointments.

What do you do to promote stability and predictability in your home? 
How are you setting the stage for your child’s future?
Where has it been difficult to let them fail?


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