Make Good Choices. Three words I say to my children regularly. I remind them as they walk out the door to be kind to others, be happy and to make good choices. You always have a choice. Our choices define us. They speak volumes. Making a wrong choice is part of life, and when it happens I teach the importance of learning from it.
Encouraging our children to follow their dreams is also a choice. As parents we tend to want to direct our children down the safe path, the road we know will be easier to navigate with less bumps and bruises. We want to protect them, but we don't want to limit them. A double edged sword really. I'm learning this with my own tween - he has a lot of independence on a daily basis, and allowing him that freedom has been exciting, excruciating and worrisome. He is fully capable of finding his way and yet I look at him and I see a little one still learning how to walk.
My kids aren't really old enough to follow a dream yet, I mean my little one can't even tie his shoes! They are old enough to want to have new experiences and that is something we encourage completely. It's important for them to try new things, to know what it feels like to evaluate a new adventure, to have the ability to make a choice. It's also important for them to sometimes fail. In our home failure is not a bad thing - we consider it a learning experience. If we raise our children to expect to win all the time, we're doing them a disservice. We don't believe everyone deserves a trophy for participation, it sends the wrong message. Setting the right expectations for them is a good way to avoid disaster at the end of the day!
Our children watch our every move, even when we don't think they're noticing. The last two years have been eye opening for our family because I decided to follow my dream and start a business. They have watched me shed every emotion known to man right in front of their eyes. It's a constant roller coaster, yet I know they have a better appreciation for the work I'm putting in and the commitment I have made to myself and our family. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but arming them with the knowledge that following your dreams is something that takes a lot of dedication, work and patience is a good lesson to teach them.
At the end of the day it's good to have big dreams - to put in the work to make them come true. It's a test to your personal will and the will of the people you surround yourself with. None of it is possible without support and encouragement. Keeping the lines of communication open with your kids and allowing them to see what it really takes to fulfill your dreams is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Success does not happen overnight, the sooner they understand that the better equipped they'll be as they go out into the world to chase their dreams.