As the parents of seven pretty cool kids, my husband, Michael, and I often get asked, “How do you guys deal with supporting such a large family?” Financially, it’s a huge challenge, one we struggle with.
Over the years, we have learned that love goes a lot farther than money ever will. We have supported them with all we could afford financially, and instead of being able to buy opportunities to support their ambitions, we gave them what we did have to give… our energy.
As parents, we are partners and have invested our hearts into the dreams of our children. Michael has always told the kids, “Show me your passion, and I will support you 100%” and he has stuck by that through all seven.
We put the kids’ dreams as a priority and supported them with all we had to give. As a family, we are a team, and Michael and I are their coaches. Over the years, we have noticed a few things that have helped us partner with our kids in their quest for success and happiness.
Encourage your kids to dream and dream big. They can be, do, or have anything they want if it means the world to them. There is no age too young or old to put your dreams into action. Write down your dreams. Make a vision board. A few of our daughters have made vision board and they have had amazing results. Visualize your success before you go to sleep each night.
2. SUPPORT THEM WITH WHAT YOU CAN
Listen to them talk about their dreams. Provide them with any monetary assistance that you are able to provide, but also show them how they can be resourceful on their own. Spend time with them! Give them rides when you are able to. Find a way for them to attend events that will enhance their journey.
3. SET GOALS
Have them write down their goals. A lot of little goals add up to big dreams! Have a timeline, a plan of action, a focus on what will help them reach these goals.. We do not believe in using external rewards such as money or gifts when our kids attain a goal. The motivation needs to come from WITHIN the child, not from an outside source, or the goal attained becomes meaningless. Practice, practice, practice!
4. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR EMOTIONS
Emotions are always the internal compass for deciding if one is on the right path. Teach them to trust their gut when meeting new people and dealing with new situations. Have your child imagine what it would be like to already be successful or to already have “made it” and tell them to notice the way that that makes them feel. Tell them to fake it till they make it! Emotions are a guidance system and when we feel good, we attract good situations.
5. ENCOURAGE PLAY
Our son loves baseball. For the last few years, he played baseball by running through the house, shouting imaginary calls, jumping up to catch the ball, squatting down to catch, and batting in the game-winning home run. He would even make noises that sounded like a stadium full of fans cheering for him. He would do this for hours, all by himself, without a bat or ball. It is called IMAGINATION! Our daughter would pretend that she was singing to a crowd of screaming fans in her room (even though they were actually all stuffed animals!) Today, she sings in front of huge crowds and her songs can be heard on iTunes. Play is really just fun rehearsal time when big dreams are born inside of them.
6. DON’T GET IN THEIR WAY
The motivation and dream has to come from the child. You cannot force your will or desires onto your child. It simply will not work. This is not your do-over life; this is THEIR life…THEIR dream. The motivation needs to come from THEM. It is not for you to decide what is too unrealistic; this is not your journey. Be supportive, not controlling.
7. THOUGHTS BECOME THINGS
Teach your child to pay attention to the thoughts they think. Thoughts become things; things become reality. Affirm the positive. Think about what you DO want. Do not focus on the negative “what if’s” and “Plan B’s.” We also do not focus any attention on the competition. There is no such thing as competition; the focus is on a personal best attitude. There is room enough for all human beings to dream.