October 21, 2009
In a time of cultural degeneration and societal turmoil, our responsibility to raise children who can lead, and lead rightly, is huge. I don't think I need to tell this audience of the importance of teaching children integrity and intelligence, as well as what it means to live in a true republic. The goal is articulate, wise, kind, and true-hearted citizens capable of guiding others to the right.
Doesn't that all sound terrific? I bet you are all nodding your heads right now. And, your second reaction is probably, "How in the world am I supposed to do that?"
Here are three keys to raising wise and able leaders:
1 Live It. Your children will not be able to emulate what they do not see.
Take an inventory of your own leadership skills. Do you treat others well? Are you cheerful and pleasant, even when things are weighing on you? Do you know what you believe in well enough to articulate it to others, especially your kids? Do you stand up for what you believe in? Do you reach outside of yourself to make the world a better place? Do you develop your knowledge to give credibility to your work?
In other words, if you are clear in your communication, mindful of others in your approach, firm in your convictions, competent in your subject matter, and unselfish in your motivations, it is very likely that you will raise children with these traits as well.
2 Step Back. In order to lead, children need the opportunity.
Our society has developed a strange, oxymoronish (my word) approach to parenting. On the one hand, many kids are left to their own devices. Childcare, television, video games, sports, and friends are becoming their core world. (That is a whole other post… maybe even a book!) Some of these pasttimes can be used to develop leadership skills in kids.. when they are done correctly. Often, however, they can create a non-challenging environment, where leadership is defined by the strongest personality in the group.
On the other hand, rather than letting children get out and practice leadership skills, their time is taken up in structured and planned events. Practical experience in leading others often comes during times when it is least expected. Don't jump in the next time your son or daughter has a zany idea to create something or solve the problems of the universe. Instead, step back and see what they can do when left to their own devices. You might be amazed!
3 Give Feedback. Raising leaders involves being a mentor.
Leadership, in and of itself, is morally neutral. Some leaders have changed the world in amazing ways, regardless of their style. Mother Theresa was a quiet but powerful force, who gave comfort to many. John Wesley spoke out forcefully as a leader in faith, even when confronted with conflict from others and within himself. On the other hand, some terrific leaders have done some horrific things. Adolf Hitler comes to mind. His charisma and intellectual abilities could have been used to great good. He chose otherwise.
This is where you come in.
Guide your children as they develop their leadership skills. When you see your son or daughter using leadership skills in the right way, call their attention to it. Make sure they know that YOU notice. Give them books on people who have used their leadership skills the right way. Talk about personalities that enjoy media coverage. Study how they lead. Note who is using their leadership skills for good and who is making immoral choices.
Raising leaders involves more than talking the talk. Developing leadership skills in your children will take a worthy example, some latitude for discovery, as well as feedback and guidance. Though you have a great deal of work ahead of you, know that the end result is leaders for tomorrow who can be a force of good in our struggling world.
All that being said, I am curious to know how much thought you moms out there have given to this subject. Leave a comment on how you raise leaders. If you haven't got the first clue, then leave a question!