During long days, and even longer nights, as parents we may wonder how our child will turn out. When such wondering begins, consider Olympic athletes. Olympians are uncommonly successful. They are the product of genetics, experience, means and methods. But "they weren't born Olympians. They were raised that way." In addition to athletic genes and strenuous workout schedules, Olympians became successful with the help of parents creating positive patterns.
A religious sage taught, "If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children."
Scientist Stephen Suomi's research at the National Institute of Health in Maryland working with rhesus monkeys proves that regardless of genes and predisposition to certain behavior, a parent's influence can determine a child's success. Ponder on what traits you'd like to see in your child and then go about teaching those lessons. Everyone has agency so kids will choose for themselves what lessons to use as an adult, but the Bible teaches, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
If you want your child to be a hard worker, assign chores
Chances are a hard working kid will become an industrious adult. Even small children can help take out the garbage, aid in preparing meals, clean bathrooms, weed flowerbeds - you get the idea. In addition to you having a cleaner house, the satisfaction of a job well done will breed self-esteem in your child. Giving kids responsibility eliminates feelings of entitlement and diminishes the likelihood that they'll live on the dole.
If you want your child to be a law-abiding citizen, set limits
Enforce bedtime, insist on seat belts and bike helmets and drive the speed limit so kids learn that rules matter and are in place to keep us safe. If children test the rules when young and learn rules are inforced, they're less likely to push boundaries later.
If you want your child to be a self-reliant adult, teach financial responsibility
A wealthy father taught his children to live the 60/20/10/10 rule. Live on 60 percent of your income. Expect 20 percent to go to taxes. Pay yourself 10 percent by saving. Give 10 percent to charity. Encourage children to live the 70/10/10 rule while they aren't effected by taxes! As we live within our means, spend wisely, save regularly and give generously, our children will likely follow suit.
If you want your child to be a happy adult, look on the bright side
Ever met a person experiencing terrible difficulties and yet they are upbeat and pleasant to be around? They have trained themselves to love this day regardless of what it throws at them because optimism is a learned skill. When a child complains about eating vegetables or loses at chess, point out something positive about the experience. When they struggle with a problem, find some humor in it to ease tension and change a grumpy mood. If you look for the good your kids will too.
If you want your child to be loving adult, love without conditions
Befriend people who are different from you. Don't yell over spilled milk. When learning your teenage son got in a car accident, don't ask about the car first. Listen patiently when you're daughter explains why she changed her college major again. Well-adjusted adults know they were loved unconditionally as children.
If you want your child to be an educated adult, read with him
The children's author Rosemary Wells suggests "read to your bunny often and your bunny will read to you." Read with your child not just at bedtime but over pb&js at lunchtime or in lieu of that re-run on TV. Readers become interesting conversationalists, informed voters and competent employees. Kids learn to love reading and value life-long learning when we do it with them.
If you want your child to be a selfless adult, teach her to serve
Picking up trash at the park, sharing toys, opening doors for others and helping to deliver cookies to a friend in need are great ways to teach children to look outside themselves. As we are put others before ourselves, including our children, it will come more naturally for our kids to do the same.
I bet that Olympic track star's mother didn't suspect as she taught her son to tie his shoes that he'd one day use that skill to lace up his spikes before running an international competition. Nor did that dad know as he taught his daughter to doggie paddle that she'd one day swim her way to Olympic gold. Whether our child is a future Olympian or not, our teaching, modeling and nurturing get her started on the right foot for the race of life. As parents we mustn't give up. We are rearing the champions of tomorrow!