The most important “gift” my parents gave to my brothers and me was to instill in us that “we could do anything we wanted as long as we were willing to work for it”. That one sentence provides a sense of vision, the freedom to choose one’s own path and underlines the values of setting goals and working hard to achieve them.
What do I want for my daughter? In the form of another list, here goes: I want her to
- (1) feel safe, loved, confident, and appreciated (basic givens for any child),
- (2) be healthy (It is almost impossible to underestimate the importance of health.),
- (3) see and understand the “big picture” (The world is complex and inter-connected. Those who get this have a huge advantage over others.),
- (4) be excited and energized by life’s opportunities (The world is her oyster perhaps.), and
- (5) choose and navigate her own paths (This is part of what my parents gave me and I am happy to pass it along to her.)
To the extent that she is able to achieve or be these things, I will consider myself successful as a parent. We are concentrating on the first two mostly for now and beginning to work on the next two. We are well on the way, but the journey has a long way to go with unexpected twists and turns ahead. In large part, her success with the last item will tell me how well I succeeded as her father.