The birth of my first child made me realize I had not taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to me in life. I had not been raised with all of the tools for turning opportunity into success. So, my wife, Carol, and I determined to give our children a better chance to succeed.
I have heard it said that how your children turn out is a crapshoot. It’s a sad thing to believe that you have nothing to do with how successful your children will be as adults. Our three sons are now happy, productive professionals and we like to believe that how they were raised had a hand in their success.
Like just about all new parents, we had no formal training on how to raise children when our first was born. As a manager and later owner of my own business, I recognized a tragic lack of work ethic in the twenty-somethings I worked with. I put much of the culpability on the parents and I used my management skills to help raise my kids.
Based on our own experiences, I would like to offer four tips for raising well-adjusted children:
1. Start making necessary changes ASAP. It all starts in the womb; as soon as you know you’re pregnant, it’s time for both Mom and Dad to start adjusting their lifestyle for the baby. That means implementing a consistent routine and forming better habits. If you know you eat poorly, or if you smoke, change those bad habits. They cannot only hurt the child while it’s in the womb, he or she will grow up modeling them.
2. Create a healthy routine for your child. Children crave structure and therefore, routine. A consistent routine also takes the guesswork out of parents with busy schedules. This includes bathing, brushing teeth and talking or reading to your son or daughter. Don’t put a television in their room, and do not let them watch excitable programs before bed elsewhere in the house. Consistently eat dinner together at the table with no distractions.
3. Get control of yourself or you’ll never be able to control your children. The old joke, “Do as I say, not as I do,” simply doesn’t fly when trying to raise well-adjusted children. Children often pick up on what they see and not what we tell them. They are very sensitive to hypocrisy; if you use profanity in front of them, how will they feel when you scold them for repeating what you’ve said? When telling them what is right and wrong, explain to them why that is so.
4. Teach your children to question and reason for themselves. Smart adults don’t simply accept the claims of others; they need reason and evidence to agree with any statement. Parents should emphasize to their children the importance of questioning claims, and to reason for themselves. This will protect them from manipulation by others and help them better manage other aspects of their lives, including money.
If you have kids, then parenting is your most important job. It’s worth going the extra mile to be a better parent, for your child’s sake.
(Editor’s Note: This guest “Viewpoint” has been written and submitted by Anthony Sposato, a father of three grown sons and the author of “Successful Parenting,” a book dedicated to tips on how to raise well-adjusted children. Sposato has worked in management for more than 30 years and currently owns a Jan-Pro franchise. He is also a member of the school board in his local community.)