After working with kids for over three decades and observing good parents for even longer, I’ve come to the decision that raw intelligence of the parent is not the key factor in raising great kids. Neither is it location, opportunity, or money. They can certainly be nice additions if other important aspects are in place, but not a necessity to have amazing children.
In truth, I think the single most important attribute for any parent is that they pay attention. This requires being in the moment with your youngsters, hearing what is spoken and sensing what is unspoken. It is seeing what lights up their countenance and noticing what clouds their eyes. It is smelling fear and touching the quick pulse of delight.
It takes a lot of courage to pay attention because it requires something of us. Not only does it take a great deal of time to notice, but also compels us to act on what we’ve learned. High expectations must be balanced with the way our child is hard-wired. We must leave time for the things that bring them joy and insist on the hard things that will cause their growth. There must be a sixth sense that knows when to push and when to give grace, when to add and when to subtract, when to stand firm and when to be flexible.
There is nothing easy about this lifetime role. And, there is nothing more rewarding than having done the job well.
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