Building your own empire or expanding an existing one takes a lot of time and energy. This is also true in building any highly successful profession. If you have a family or plan to have one, remember that the hard work required in a successful career may sometimes be incompatible with a parenting style that’s meaningfully involved on a daily basis necessary to raise your children well.
I am not espousing that we all turn away from our big dream of personal success if we want a healthy family. I am just offering a reminder about the challenges that we face as we work to achieve these two big goals side by side.
Inasmuch as it’s best to grab all the opportunities that come our way to achieve this dream of being the best in our chosen field, it is hard to play catch up when it comes to raising our kids. We cannot pause their growing up years so they can wait for us to finish all the overtime work we need to do. Nor can we rewind to see what went wrong with our then bubbly toddler who is now a depressed teenager. It just doesn’t work that way. While writing this article, I received a text from my son telling me that someone he knew died, possibly suicide. It’s quite alarming because another one just did the other week.
Inasmuch as a successful career doesn’t happen overnight, so does a healthy and happy adult. It’s in the everyday rearing, the sharing of trials and triumphs, the happy times and heated arguments with properly expressed unconditional love that our kids grow up to their fullest potential.
Having all these in mind, here are some points to ponder upon so our children are not left behind as we build our respective careers.
1. Quality time is quantity time. During the early years of our children, they just need huge chunks of time from their parents. There is no other way. We need to be with them not just during the highlight moments but also during the mundane everyday moments. This is the time when we get to know them, their personalities, what makes them happy, sad, succeed, angry and so on. I believe that at least one parent’s schedule should be flexible enough to be there.
2. Who are the surrogate parents of your children? They say it takes a village to raise a child. Both in the presence and absence of a full-time parent, our children are raised by other people around them. If you’re leaving your young children with a caretaker, whether a relative or a hired help, make sure that your rules are implemented. Now the challenge is having these rules observed even as they play with others. Back in the day, kids usually played with their neighbors and cousins who lived close to their homes. Today they may be playing online with kids (or not even kids) from around the world via the internet. So please be very vigilant. Be prudent with the use of their online devices, which may prematurely expose them to adult materials.
3. Attend PTCs and talk to your guidance counselor. Whether your children bring you honors or trouble in school, or even if they are the average students who don’t bring any trouble or glory, attend at least one PTC per year. Get to know their teachers so that you can put a face on the characters in the stories they tell you over dinner. Set that meeting with your guidance counselor. Do you know that learning about your children’s psychological tests and their conversations with the counselor is such a gold mine in parenting? And yet, a miniscule percentage of parents make use of this even if it’s already a sunk cost. Set that appointment now and get to know your children from the eyes of psychology experts. Don’t wait to be called for that time might be too late.
4. In the absence of regular “quantity time” carve out time for them. Have family dinners as often as possible. This is the best opportunity to get to know your children. Be deliberate about having meaningful conversations with your family. Set annual family goal setting and reap the rewards of both fun times deposited in your memory banks and systematic goal achievement.
5. Involve them in your empire building. Wouldn’t it be nice for your kids to know their family’s source of livelihood? Wouldn’t it be good for them to understand what you’re doing and why you have to work overtime sometimes? When they grow up and become actively involved in your empire, they will have a bigger pride in the heritage of their empire. Take them to work sometimes. Discuss with them age-appropriate matters about your career. You’d be surprised how great their fresh insights are.
6. Give them cash allowance on the low side. This is a challenge to well-off families who can easily afford to do otherwise without hurting the family’s net worth. But here’s the thing. It’s better for them to get used to budgeting a small amount regularly so that when they start working, they would not have a hard time downsizing their expenses. And no matter how small their allowance, enforce a regular and automatic savings mechanism. (Read Your Children’s Weekly Allowance: Best Training Ground to Raise Millionaires)
7. Summertime is not just for vacation and summer classes. Gone are the days when summer was spent just playing with neighbors and cousins, and going to your family’s hometown to visit your grandparents for a month or so. There are summer classes left and right to attend, leaving no breather for the parent on self-improvement expenses. Why don’t you challenge your kids to earn some cash during this time?
8. Cut their financial umbilical cord once they graduate from college. This is a sure way to discourage delaying financial independence from you. I see a lot of graduates from top schools who delay looking for a job because they want to rest. Rest from what? And if they continue to receive allowance from their parents, they may even be better off with it compared to the starting salary that they can get.
9. Are we raising entitled kids? This is a big thing in the parenting arena these days. Middle to upper class parents face this big question. Are we allowing our children to be exposed to some “hunger” that we all know is necessary in raising successful children? Or do we overindulge them with our praises and endless opportunities that we’re giving them a wrong sense of the real world? There’s a two-sided take on this entitlement. We have been made aware of the ill effects of our kids feeling entitled to have a good life as if the world owes them. On the other hand, in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers this same feeling of entitlement found in the more affluent kids made them question authorities, seek out better learning, factors that contribute to success. The key is to be aware of the two sides in order to strike a healthy balance.
10. Immerse them in our culture. For Christ’s sake be worried not just when your kids are flunking Math, but also when they can’t even speak decent Filipino! Yes, I repeat, be worried not proud. How come we are so quick to correct their grammatical errors in English but find it cute to hear their baluktot Tagalog? Stop this nonsense. There is no excuse if your children have been living in the Philippines for a couple of years now, no matter where they go to school, learning the language is a must to understand our country, its people and culture. If they’re going to inherit the empire you’re building here, make sure they learn good Filipino before you send them out to study in some foreign country.
11. For the well-to-do families, allow your young adult children to travel on their own with limited budget. Do not spoil them with travelling business class with you and staying only in first class accommodations. Of course, if you can easily afford to do so as a family, go ahead. But it’s good to remind them that the amenities that their parents can afford are not the same as the amenities that they can afford. This way, declaring financial independence or cutting the financial umbilical cord as discussed in No. 8 will not be as painful.
12.Being born into a rich or poor family is not your children’s “fault.” There are inherent advantages and disadvantages in both cases. While being poor has its advantages such as the built-in hunger necessary for someone to succeed, their opportunities are limited especially if they are deprived of proper education, nutrition and other basic needs. On the other hand, being rich, especially the children of empire owners, may have all the opportunities in the world, but may also be faced with extremely high expectations, guilt about the inherited wealth, too many choices and even boredom. Let’s try our best to develop in our kids the proper mindset about this parameter in their life. There should be no unnecessary shame in being born rich or poor; nor should there be unnecessary feeling of entitlement or anger attached to it. Help them learn to accept it the way one accepts the cards he’s dealt with. And they should remember that their play using their cards is what they have control over, such that winning and losing in this game called life is still in their hands.
13. Discuss money openly and healthily. Go beyond the money skills, go deeper into your Family FQ and discuss the real value of money to your family, the reasons behind your empire building and all the sacrifices. Not only will your kids benefit from this, but you too will be forced to look into your own core value compass so you don’t get lost in your empire building.
14. Add spiritual realm in your empire building and child rearing. There is no other way to make everything that we do meaningful but to acknowledge that there is a being greater than all of us. We are just stewards of any empire we’re able to build during this lifetime. Our kids and we should always remember this.
Cheers to your empire building and child rearing! Remember what Jackie Kennedy said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much