Parents Help Children Map Out a Meaningful Future

It is time to view children not as problems needing to be fixed, pills but as mysteries needing to discovered and explored. Our future depends on developing the unique strengths of our young people and our young people deserve to discover a path in life that is full of meaning. Why should we wait until we are middle aged to discover what our unique contribution to life can be if we can begin to develop it when we are young? Parents can help children find their strengths by observing their behaviors from a very young age, by listening to them and asking them many questions about their preferences, by taking their input and ideas seriously. One of the problems with our schools and the way we look at kids today is that it seems that adults have forgotten what it actually feels like to be a child. The fact is, we remember so much from our childhoods that it would be careless to overlook the power of building strengths at a young age. Think back and recall your best and worst social experience, your best and worst learning experience, your first friend, your first love. All of these things happened years and years ago for most adults, and yet they have greatly influenced who we have become. The path to meaning and success begins in childhood. This is where we should lay the groundwork for mapping out a career and a work life that promises fulfillment.

  1. Henry Zonio Reply

    I strongly agree with your assessment that we need to help children discover their strengths and then help them learn how to use those strengths. My wife and I try and do that with our children. Many times those things that seem to annoy us the most stem from their strengths so instead of simply reprimanding our children, we try and find what strengths in them are contributing to the behaviour and then redirect our children in how they manifest that strength in appropriate and positive ways. As a children’s pastor who works with many parents from week to week, I also try and help parents to do the same with their children when they come up to me for parenting advice on how to make their children behave. Children need to discover what they are good at (character-wise), be affirmed in those things and then taught how to use those strengths in a positive manner that benefits the world around them.

  2. Christiaan Reply

    Thanks for highlighting the need for us parents (and educators) to spend most of our energy on what will give us the most “return” when it comes to our kids. My two children just went through K and 2nd grade SAT testing. Tears, irritability, arguments and not-wanting-to-go-to-school was the result. Is that the best way to figure out how our kids are doing and how we can best encourage/educate and train them? I doubt it.

  3. Todd McKeever Reply

    It sounds like this book will be a great read that I am going to have to find a way to get a hold of it.

    When you wrote:
    “Parents can help children find their strengths by observing their behaviors from a very young age, by listening to them and asking them many questions about their preferences, by taking their input and ideas seriously. One of the problems with our schools and the way we look at kids today is that it seems that adults have forgotten what it actually feels like to be a child. The fact is, we remember so much from our childhoods that it would be careless to overlook the power of building strengths at a young age.”

    It reminds me of a story I heard once where a boy and his dad were taking a walk alongside a muddy road. The boy’s mother agreed to let them go, but only if he was careful not to get any mud on his new clothes. Within minutes though, the boy had fallen and gotten mud everywhere. Without a second thought, he looked up at his dad and asked: “Dad, why don’t you watch where I’m going?” That is a part I think many may be missing.

    I think many adults while growing up were taught more of being seen but not heard. My dad’s parents had more of a mentality of teaching him, “This is what you will do” and not “Tell me what do you like to do?”

  4. Susan Preece Reply

    I really like “Mapping out a future” and the imagery of that phrase. I’m learning a little late in life about how not planning really can affect your entire life and future. And how wonderful to have resources to focus on strengths that help us work in a positive motion, instead of being overwhelmed by our shortcomings. I look forward to learning about your resources for children. Thanks!

  5. Jamie Baker Reply

    By asking the adults in school environments to tap into their childhood and school memories, both the good and the painful, what you are doing is helping them get in touch with their empathy. I find that adults can become too task-oriented in schools and lose sight of the real job at hand, which is to support children in experiencing and learning about the world and their place in it. Often teachers are far more concerned with pleasing administrators than motivating the curiosity of children. A motivated and curious child is a learner. Schools would be far more effective and pleasurable places if the adults in school environments were more empathetic.

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