I’m happy to report she made it. And I have to admit on her thirteenth birthday that we teased her a bit about the fact that she had already achieved her life’s goal. What was she going to do with the rest of her life?I’m also happy to report that it didn’t take long to for Olivia to realize that life had more to offer her than being a teenager and that she has grown up to do much more than turn thirteen.
As I think back to Olivia’s life goal, I want to remind every parent of three lessons they need to learn from my sweet Oliva.Lesson one: respect your child’s perception of goals and achievements—even encourage them.
To seven year-old Olivia, turning thirteen seemed far away, but not so far that it was unreachable. It was also something she viewed as exciting and almost magical. In her eyes, to be thirteen was to be a mature and independent. So when you look at it from that perspective, her goal was every parent’s dream for their child; to be mature and independent.Lesson two: Your child’s goals for their lives need to be theirs…not yours.
If your little one says he or she is going to be the president someday or is going to have a farm for animals no one wants, who are you to say they won’t? Don’t you think your child is smart enough or compassionate enough or good enough to accomplish what they set their hearts and minds to do? Besides, didn’t you make your own choices?Lesson three: NEVER dismiss your child’s goals and dreams by making fun of them or by telling your child they are silly or impossible.
That’s like throwing the anchor out without having the other end of the rope tied to the boat. Trust me—this is not something you want to do. Your job as a parent is to instill hope and courage and self-confidence and the belief that they can do anything they set their mind to.Someone once said that God gives us dreams a size too big so we can grow into them. Don’t keep your children from growing. Their goals and dreams will likely change more times than you can count between now and the time they leave home. But even if they don’t, your job is to love and build them up—not deflate them.
So while we did tease Olivia a bit, it was not to make fun of her or belittler her. Nor did we do so when she was too young to understand what we were saying and why. She and her siblings knew (and still do) that we believe they can do anything they set their hearts and minds to do.The question is…do your children know the same?