Nurturing Your Child’s Dreams While Hanging Onto Your Own

Over the weekend my son and I cleaned out his closet. Old school papers, tiny mementos, and a few stuffed animals made his “someday when I am married” box. My son hangs onto a keepsake box to share with his future wife and children.

He is only eight years old but has a desire one day to be a good father and husband (I confess I have been praying for him for a while now as well as my future daughter-in-law). He has felt this desire since he was four years old when he admitted it to me one day as I tucked him into bed.

He melted my heart.

As he has gotten older, he has become more succinct with his dreams and goals. He has decided he wants to be a major league baseball player, earn $10 million a year, buy a mansion (one for me, too), have two children, a dog, a wife and a skateboard. And, after he reaches those goals, he wants to go live in the woods with his best friend Dylan and be an adventurer and hunter during baseball’s offseason. I imagine I will be babysitting quite a bit at that point.

Liam holding baseball

Of course, I am proud. I have had to catch myself not coaching him on what I want for him but rather nurture what he wants for himself and guide him thereafter.

And it has helped me refine my own goals, too.

When your own goals change

There are dreams of my own I have had to let go of in order to meet the desire to create a balanced life for us. After I left financial journalism, I spent several years studying screenwriting and filmmaking with the hopes of big screen success. That dream is gone and was replaced by having my own business as a writing coach.

Now, I make other people’s dreams come true who want to write a bestselling book or noticeable blog. This career path gives me the opportunity to be available to Liam when he is off of school or the notorious early release days take place.

That was not easy for me, however, to reinvent myself from a high-achieving work a lot gal to a work-at-home solo entrepreneur juggling clients, school schedules, baseball activities and birthday parties. But I can see its purpose.

Looking back to when I became a full-time single mother, I noticed in my own life as well as other single moms I have met along the way a two-year time frame between couplehood and single motherhood existed that was fraught with calamity. I do not know why it was consistently two years among us all, but that was the common timeframe that surfaced during our discussions.

The shifts and changes during that period of time enabled me to observe what was truly important. I needed to be in the present moment for my child and pay attention to what his dreams were so I could help guide him toward achieving them as his biggest cheerleader.

The simple question I grew up with, What do you want to be when you grow up? does not seem to have an easy answer like it once used to, I think, for today’s youth. I believe it is important to inject the creative juice to motivate children to be goal-oriented and nurture the gifts God has given them.

Here are a few ways to boost your children’s confidence, courage and self-esteem as you reinvent yourself during your initial season of single motherhood.

Goal setting for your kids

What is your son’s or daughter’s goal?   Have a conversation with your child about what matters to them. Listen to their hearts and not just the words they speak. Think about the skills you notice in your child and how those skills match up well with what their heart desires to do.

Create a to-do list and involve your child. Be specific and list exactly what needs to happen so they can follow a very clear path. When you list the actionable item steps necessary to make the goal happen will give them a sense of self-confidence because they will know what it takes to achieve that goal and have a sense of accomplishment once completed.

When an action item is completed, cross it off with your child. Remind them that each time they cross off an item they are one step closer to their goal. Let them know that they are to complete one thing in front of them, one by one, so they do not get ahead of themselves and worry it will not get done. Crossing an item off the list is very motivating!

The reward of a brighter future

When you do these steps with your child, you are teaching them about responsibility, organizational skills and critical thinking skills, too. Strategize with them. Genuinely congratulate your son or daughter when each step is achieved. Phrases like “You did it! You crossed another item off your list! I knew you could do it …” will boost your child’s self-confidence and cement a very strong connection between the two of you.

While life can be a great teacher, in most cases, parents are the best teachers.   Teaching them how to take the initiative in life will give them a distinct advantage in the long run.

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