by NMA Board Director Lori Buher
Protect and Prepare
Protecting our children from harm is a basic rule of parenting. When I failed to protect my son from a vaccine preventable disease, the guilt, no matter how misplaced, was difficult to overcome. He did survive meningococcal disease and has gone on to thrive. I believe a primary reason for his recovery is that long before his illness, his Dad and I had begun to help him discover his passions and his purpose in life, and to set goals. Knowing what his strengths were, helped him to redirect his passion from one, (basketball) to another, (engineering). Arming our children with tools to deal with roadblocks, disappointments and adversity will protect them as they grow.
Setting goals is so important for our kids, and so important for parents to understand. Recognizing a passion in a child and nurturing that passion is not always easy to do. As parents we have our own goals and desires for our children. I think all of us are guilty of trying to transfer our desires to our children to some degree. While it’s difficult to look at these small human beings and not try to channel their potential and their passion towards a path we can no longer take, it’s not necessarily the right approach. It’s so much better for our children if we listen and observe. When we see their interests begin to grow in a certain area, it’s time to nurture and support. When your third grader tells you she wants to build skyscrapers, say, “wonderful, what do you have to do to get there?” As you begin the conversation, you and your child begin to set goals, both short term and long term. As those goals are met, she becomes not only self-motivated, but engaged in school and in life. Failure to meet a goal is of course, another lesson and helps her become resilient. Teaching our children that it takes planning and a lot of hard work to reach their goals is an important part of our job as parents.
By nurturing our children’s strengths and interests, we discover in which direction their passions lie and can help them build dreams, set goals and get excited about the future. Protect and prepare, that should be every parent’s motto!