- Family and Parenting»
- Parenting Skills, Styles & Advice
How Dreams Take Flight
It seems to me that as we each, in our own way, desire to live meaningful and prosperous lives we are often in mystery as to how to bring that about. Even the most predominantly and noticeably successful among us have an area or areas of their lives that are less than optimum. The simple truth is, and that is the beauty of truth, it’s always simple – the truth is that there exists a basic formula for success, a basic formula for mediocrity and a basic formula for failure.
There are tons of books about success written by people who are a success in their particular field. Most of us have read at least one or two of these. The problem for me is that the success has been so over there, in someone else’s life, someone else’s reality. The successes I have had in my life often appear random as though luck has chosen to briefly shine upon me and things just click into place. I never took the time to dissect these books and look at the mechanics of success. The expression “that man (woman) is a machine” is a fact when it is applied to describing an attribute of one whom we agree is a success in his or her chosen field. And therein lays a very important piece of the success formula – chosen field.
From the perspective of one who has raised four children I have found that this “chosen field” is more often than not made very early in one’s life and that an observant parent will catch on sooner rather than later as to what direction their child is wanting to take in life. Early spotting of your child’s “chosen field” simplifies parenting big time. All four of my children chose early in life and all four of them are well on their way to being highly successful in their “chosen fields”. Simplicity in parenting comes from getting out and staying out of their way. Rather than badgering, nagging, cajoling, threatening, coercing or using any number of other negative strategies we, as parents, all too often use to thwart unwanted behaviors from our children we can work with our children to assist them in achieving their wants for life and living.
It has been said that our dreams and goals are our most valued possessions. If that is true, and I believe it is, then we as parents have a duty and an obligation to see that we not only take guardianship of and responsibility for our children but for their dreams and goals as well. This lesson as with many other lessons I have learned in my life, I learned the hard way.
Before he was five years old my son had shown a good deal of interest in planes and flying. He’d never been in a plane but he began to talk of little else. As his gift for his fifth birthday we decided to rent a small plane for half an hour and take him for a flight over the city. That did it he was going to be a pilot. The first thing we did not do is launch into a diatribe about how much there was to learn and how you had to be good at math; how he might change his mind when he got older; how hard it was and this and that. In other words we did not run a negative process on his goal. That is a very important key factor – always run positive processes only on your children’s dreams and goals. When you discipline your child never use their dreams and goals to punish them with. Too often when I was punished as a child my most cherished possession, my dream or goal was threatened with some dire consequence of one sort or another. Your children are valuable to you and if someone threatened to take them away or harm them unless you acted thus and so you would find it devastating. Dreams and goals cannot thrive and grow in a threatening and unsafe environment. It’s not “rocket science”, it is common sense.
Once my son determined his dream he began to set goals and his first goal was to learn to read. He could hardly wait to go to school in September so that he could begin implementing that plan. There were some frustrating moments for him in elementary school where one of the first lessons he learned was that it takes time to learn a new skill. While he worked on that most of his sentence began with “When I’m a bigger enough boy I’m going to…….” At school he was not only introduced to reading, writing and arithmetic but other children as well. Two months in he saw the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts at the school’s Remembrance Day service. Pilots wear uniforms, Scouts wear uniforms, he was in Beavers before Christmas and he wore all three uniforms proudly until the age of twelve when he joined Air Cadets.
While waiting to become a “bigger enough boy” he poured over any book that so much as had a picture of a plane. He built planes with his lego blocks, he made paper planes and he drew planes. Every Mothers’ Day card I have from him growing up has a carefully drawn plane placed somewhere amid the You’re the Best Mother…….” His favorite outing was to go to the outskirts of the airport to watch the planes land and take off. He would have stayed there four hours if his sisters would have put up with it. He was absolutely dedicated to learning how to read and once he had mastered that he was well off into the world of aircraft. Soon he was citing the wing span, take off and stall speeds, fuel capacity and all manner of other details and facts of every airplane of any description that had ever taken to the skies. Even in his sleep he was busy. I know this because he would often be in communication with the “control tower” as he talked in his sleep. When we drove south of the border to the Air Museum south of Seattle Washington he was truly in his element. He poured over every inch of the place and talked to anyone with a set of ears. One fellow that had spent a good deal of time at the receiving end of my son’s communication approached us and told us that he was retired from the US Air Force where he had been an airplane mechanic for over thirty years. He told us that our son knew more about the workings of the jets than most of the pilots he had known and worked with throughout his career.
One day, having picked my son and youngest daughter up from elementary school I drove to the high school to pick up my daughter. She wasn’t waiting for us outside and so the three of us went into the school to find her. She was in the computer lab with two other students, both male. The boys introduced themselves to me, one with, “Hi, my name is ____ and I’m going to be a pilot. It was well over an hour before we got out of there. What followed was a highly animated conversation between my son and the boy three years his senior. When we left, my son had a new goal. He announced that when he turned twelve he would be joining Air Cadets. He went on to describe in detail the conversation that he had with the young friend of my daughter’s who was a member of a local Air Cadet Squadron. He celebrated his twelve birthday in July, quit Scouts and by September he was proudly sporting the Air Cadet uniform.
It was perfect, finally he had a whole squadron full of children with similar goals and a group of adults to coach and support them to that end. He had people around him who knew what he was talking about, who understood his “jargon” and who, for the most part, shared his enthusiasm. His marks in school soared as one of his goals became to get onto and stay on the Honor Roll. One of the criteria for maintain membership in cadets was that the children had to keep their grades up at school and for those who excelled there were scholarship programs available which provided further training and the potential for earning “wings” both in gliders and small powered craft. He set his sights and was well on his way. He became a member of the Color Guard and he attended every class, camp, outing and community service that came up on the squadron agenda. His language now included words such as proficiency, competency and “ my career as a cadet”. I was stupid enough to argue with him about the career business but he had me look up the word in the dictionary and I was obliged to set my argument aside.
And then something happened, something that crash landed his dreams, his goals, his vision for his future, his self-confidence, his self-esteem and well and thoroughly caved him in.
To be continued…………