You Wouldn’t Let Them Play With Matches – Would You?

Note: This was the first blog I wrote in 2007, written in honor of my mother, Mary Kay Flannery. As the mother of ten children, she saw it all, achieved so much, and was a great role model for me. The lessons here can apply to any relationship where you can play a leadership role.

Twenty-something years ago when my two older children were just 3 and 4 years old, I was complaining to my mother about discipline issues. The kids weren’t behaving and I was sounding rather exasperated about what I wanted them to do or didn’t want them to do.

My mother said something to me that has stuck with me ever since. She said, “You wouldn’t let them play with matches, would you?” Of course I said, “No,” emphatically. And she said, “Then don’t let them do that! Don’t be wishy-washy. Be firm about what you find unacceptable behavior and they will understand.” (I think that’s the Dog Whisperer’s way of saying, “Be the Alpha Dog.”)

Fast forward 23 years and what does that have to do with finding balance and fulfillment in your family life and a strong sense of self for your children? Deciding as a parent what you believe in and the values you hold dear are important to setting the ground rules for your family life. Being wishy-washy and lax will serve no purpose in building character and commitment in your children or in yourself.

On the other hand, if you come to parenthood with a plan, work on that plan with your spouse, and continue to mold and nurture that plan, you will see wonderful things develop.

If you explore your VALUES and what you want to pass on to your children, then the teachable moments and opportunities will spring up all around you.

If you define your personal and family PRIORITIES they will become more influential in affecting your actions and COMMITMENTS.

If you learn to champion and acknowledge your children, yourself and your spouse, you will all know your STRENGTHS and will feel like you can accomplish anything.

If you’re HONEST about your gremlins or saboteurs, the things that hold you back in life, then you won’t pass them on to your children.

As a parent, or for any human being, if you never develop goals or a plan, you will always be tumbling in the waves of life and never riding them.

Don’t be bounced around by life and by parenthood.

Stand firm in your values, priorities, strengths, and commitments.

Do your best to champion and acknowledge the values, priorities, strengths and commitments of your family.

And don’t be wishy-washy!

Failure is not what happens when you don’t reach your goals.

Failure is never setting goals to reach for.