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As much as we want to live each moment with our children, raising them, by its very nature, involves thinking intensely about the future, their future, your future and actually planning it out. In living this way, parenting is literally one of the most stressful parts of human existence. We want to enjoy our time as a family, we want to love and treasure our children, yet we also want to ensure their safety emotionally, physically and socially, and we want to do whatever is necessary to send them off into the world with at least a modicum of skills, capabilities and a strong sense of self worth.
Walking this fine line between living in the moment and living for the future is a balancing act, a juggling act, a high wire act involving all of our skills as people and negotiators, financial planners and educators, mentors and kitchen staff, dishwashers and life coaches.
One way I've learned to handle the enormous task of parenting for the future is to clue my own sons in on the whole game. I don't want them to parent themselves but I do want them to know what some of this entails. I want them to know that while it may seem to them that I am nagging them and overly concerned, I am actually very much committed to their overall well being and trying to help them get on and stay on the best possible road until the handful of years I have left with them as children are over and they're out there having to figure most of it out for themselves.
I try to tie in bits of reality here and there to help them get ready on time, to do their homework, or be kind to each other, to drop off toys and clothes at the local charities, to respect their parents and teachers, to try and not take things personally when their friends drop them, to make eye contact, to say please and thank you, to appreciate art and nature, music, the stars and themselves.
These things, I tell them, are what makes you strong later, when you have a job and bills to pay and obligations to other people.
But it's more than this. My children need to know that if they're not part of the solution than, yes, they're part of the problem.