14 Dec

I recently received a pleasant email from my cousin sharing that his son qualified for the Junior Olympics in Track and Field.  I was ecstatic that my little cousin had been recognized as one of the best runners in the nation for the 400 meter event.  He followed up the email with pictures of his son with a medal around his neck, a beaming smile and two thumbs up.  I couldn’t help but to be proud, but I also couldn’t help but to reflect on just a few years ago when my little cousin vehemently rejected the notion of running track. His first and only love at the time was football. His father, having been an athlete, insisted that he run and even implemented an incentive plan for his first couple track seasons.  I also recall something about a contract being drafted and executed also.
To me this success story represents a major element of positive parenting:  If we lead they will follow.  If my cousin would have allowed his son to take control of that aspect of his life at such a young age he may not be experiencing the awesome feeling he has right now.  His father made the decision for him to run track not so that he could be an olympic hopeful but because he knew it would make him into a better athlete and provide him with options.
Children don’t readily know what’s good for them. I firmly believe that is why they have parents. Parents have a perspective and outlook that children have not yet gained simply because they are children. That’s not to say that children shouldn’t have options but we as parents must ensure that our children do what’s in their best interest even when they don’t see it. This goes for approving of friends; staying involved in education through college; saying no to going to the “party of the year”; making them practice the instrument they begged to play;  guiding them in choosing challenging classes and otherwise.
There are too many parents who don’t see the importance of leading their children. In the many years that I have worked with youth of varying ages I have seen the detrimental results of not leading our children.
Congrats to my little cousin for giving it all you have and succeeding in your endeavors. Kudos to his dad for leading. You are an example for young parents all over.

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