Extra Mile Parenting; 10 Keys To Raising Extra-Unique Kids
Extra-mile parents are those who accept their child’s condition, are aware of their family’s emotional needs, and seek to build a positive attitude in their family culture. They have learned to grieve openly, celebrate freely, respect the feelings of each family member, and to get the focus off themselves. These parents are heroes we have much to learn from. Here are ten keys to help you become that extra-mile parent.
- Patience. Everything comes more slowly to EU kids. Milestones are fewer and far apart, but this makes achievements all the sweeter.
- Acknowledge grief. Revisiting grief is normal and natural, especially at birthdays, special occasions, or other milestone events in your child’s life. Allow yourself room to grieve and talk, and then move on.
- It’s not about you. Remember it’s really about accepting your child and being OK with who they are. Don’t make it about yourself; remember your goal is to resource, facilitate, and love your child first.
- Support. Find and link up with like-minded parents who are willing to be real, genuine, and transparent about their lives, struggles, and victories.
- Slow down. Be here now and focus on enjoying your EU child. Get into their world by being present and in the moment, and stepping off of your own life roller coaster, even if only for a few moments.
- Let your child teach you. Learn from their simplicity, spontaneity, and the joy with which they approach life. Learn from their perspective how to enjoy simple things again.
- Making comparisons. Avoid the dangerous pitfall of comparing your child to any others. She is unique, perfect, and valuable, so enjoy her as God made her.
- Unrealistic expectations. When your expectations are beyond what is realistic, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Be aware and honest with your unspoken and even subconscious, unrealistic expectations of your family life.
- Vicarious identity. Remember, it’s not about you. When you feel embarrassment, shame, or perceived disapproval of your child, it’s not about you or your reputation, or your value as a person. Consider this…is it possible the problem lays in others, or even yourself? Ultimately, this is about being OK with who you are as a family and accepting and even celebrating it.
- Be Yourself. Focus on being real, transparent, and authentic as you walk through life and your EU experience. Keep a good sense of humor and be willing to really laugh and have a perspective which allows you to have fun, enjoy life, and be yourself in the context of your family challenges.
Remember, there are many things in life that are far more important than the size of your investment portfolio or the size of your latest paycheck.
Too often in our capitalistic society, we place too much emphasis on financial achievement and too little on the importance of living a purpose driven life.
- Family… your spouse, your parents, and her kids should come first. Just simply providing for them does not make your family, your number one priority. There is far more you can do for them with quality and quantity time. Love is spelled…. TIME.
- Friends… the older some of us get, the less time we have for our friends. Some people get too busy climbing the success ladder and may not even make time for friends. Big mistake. So many things in our society are disposable, and sadly, friends too often fall into that category. Take time to invest in your friendships, both old and new. How hard is it to schedule a Starbucks coffee, pick up the phone, or write an e-mail?
- Your health… stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor relationships with you and your family… all of these can adversely affect your health. Getting caught up in your career and working endless hours can also lead to neglect of one’s health. Workaholism can be deadly. The lack of discipline in making exercise, sleep, a good diet, and a healthy lifestyle can be dangerous if not deadly as well. You get one body, take care of it and treat it with the respect it deserves.
- Kids… investing in your kids is absolutely one of the best investments you can make. Understanding how to relate to, love, care for, and communicate with your kids is vital to becoming a more fulfilled and complete person. Our future is our children. What kind of legacy are you leaving behind? Relationships that are fully orbed or just a fat portfolio?
- Education… being a lifelong learner is a lifelong process. It’s not about being enrolled in the school or a fancy college or receiving a piece of paper. It is, however, about being someone who is hungry to learn, willing to change, and ready to embrace new ways of looking at life and the universe. As long as you have your mental capacities, you can keep learning and building on what you already know. Your mind is a terrible thing to waste.
- Having fun… people get so caught up in society’s money game that wealth becomes an addiction, an obsession, and the purpose for their existence. How many wealthy people aren’t healthy people who spend far too much time and energy chasing promotions, money, and possessions. We can end up with lots of toys and turn out to be pretty unhappy people… big mistake.
- Solving social problems… how can you be a voice in society for those who do not have the ability to speak for themselves? Whether it’s poverty, divorce, suicide, teenage pregnancy, name your issue… you can have a voice and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Your community is full of opportunities for you to volunteer, donate time or money, and get involved.
- Your neighbors… give the neighbors a chance. Don’t write them off because they aren’t the same age, race, or occupation as you. What’s the sense of neglecting neighbors, since they can be sources of friendship, if given a chance? Part of our connection to the greater society is defined by our neighborhoods, which are full of neighbors— who could be friends we haven’t met yet.
- Appreciating/valuing what you have… right now make a list of 10 things that you really appreciate. What is on your list? Despite our overall affluence, we still lament material things we lack rather than appreciating and valuing the material and nonmaterial things we do have. Don’t forget relationships.
- Your reputation… a good name is to be had above riches. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but only moments to lose it. We chase after many things in life, and we often de-value and under-invest in relationships which should have our focus and priority. How many men have thrown it all away in a quick but twisted attempt at some forbidden fruit?