Do you have a vision for your family’s future? If so, how are you working towards it each day?
As my wife and I prepare to expand our family, I’ve been thinking more and more about the vision that we have for our family. We started with an end destination in mind, but I’ve got to tell you, vision leaks. Sometimes, when you get into the thick of parenting and everyday life of careers, school, etc, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees staring you right in the face. Probably what prompted my latest round of reflections about our family’s vision was 3 things: reading the book American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam, watching my daughters go through swimming lessons, and my experience yesterday at Firestone getting our tires changed.
I’ll begin with Firestone. Here’s what I realized yesterday: people are always watching, and in particular, vision is more caught than taught. Due to some scheduling challenges, I had the girls with me most of the day while I juggled work and running a few errands. We ended up at Firestone for a few hours, and during that time, while I worked on my laptop, I had the girls set up with I-pads, headphones, and snacks at the table in front of me. Every so often I would redirect them, or quiet them down, but for the most part, they were plugged in and well behaved and I was busy getting work done while we waited. A sweet older lady next to us who’d been watching remarked how surprised she was at how patient I was with my young girls. She continued to express how impressed she was at both their behavior and how gentle I was in interacting with them. At some point I thanked her for her observations, while noting that I’m not always this patient (she likely caught me on an extra patient day). I’m just glad that I happened to be setting a good example. It just makes me wonder though, what did she expect to see?
As for the swimming lessons- wow, what an interesting test of our resolve. On day one, we arrived and the teacher told us that no parents would be allowed in the pool area until the final class. Ok, I might be able to get behind that, though it was initially unnerving to leave my daughters with complete strangers while we watched from behind a glass window. But, Samantha and I want our young ladies to develop courage and be leaders like Esther, unafraid in new circumstances. So we had to give them this shot to begin exercising these qualities. Almost immediately our youngest decided to quit. She ran out of the pool area back to us and decided that she no longer wanted to participate. At this point, we had a choice to make. Do we stick to our guns and make her commit or do we allow her to change her mind (though I guess in this case, since we’re the ones who signed her up, she’s not really changing her mind…). Ultimately, we respected her decision not to return to class, knowing full well that soon, whether in this class or another, she’s going to learn how to swim.
As for Riley though, we encouraged her to stick with it. She was the one who actually wanted to do this at first, and after a few classes experiencing going under water, she was losing confidence in that decision. Yesterday was the toughest for me, when I came back into the pool area she was crying. I told her that I was proud of her for continuing to try, even when she didn’t really like it, because sometimes you have to do things you don’t like, in order to accomplish something special. Again, what was interesting is that as we had this conversation, we were within earshot of a few other parents and I could tell more than just my daughter was listening.
Finally for the Putnam book, this has just got me thinking big picture about a lot of the challenges we’re facing more globally as a society and culture when it comes to raising our children and giving them opportunities to succeed. It reinforced for me the necessity of being intentional as a parent. Intentional about creating teachable moments. Intentional about getting involved. Intentional about having dinner as a family. Little things, that eventually add up to big things. Because at the end of the day, that’s really what being vision driven is. It’s knowing what you want, and figuring out ways to get there. One day at a time.