Whether you like it or not, when you become a parent you become the leader of your family. But how does family leadership work?
Children learn by observation and imitation.parents are the “models” that children first observe and begin to imitate.
You need to engage in the behavior you want your children to imitate and learn. As a parent, you become your children’s primary
leader. It is a powerful and often difficult responsibility.
Most of us never learned the skills of effective family leadership. In our culture, we have been regularly exposed to the notion that
we should become “child-centered” or that “children should always come first.”
If we make children the leaders of our families, our family structure will disintegrate. As parents, it is not our job to imitate our children. It is not our job to behave like children. It is not our job to be our children’s “best friend.” It is not our job to adapt to their behavior…it is their job to adapt to ours.
As parents, we need to become fully responsible leaders…responsible first for our own health and well being.
Otherwise, we offer less than healthy leadership to our children. Teaching our children leadership and self-responsibility is only accomplished by becoming the best example of leadership and self-responsibility ourselves.
Here are ten time-honored principles of effective family leadership. To become your children’s best leader, learn and practice these principles.
1. Your children are sometimes illogical, unreasonable,self-centered, disobedient, stubborn, and defiant. Love them anyway.
2. Give your children attention, appreciation, and encouragement. Practice these gifts on yourself first. Even when people accuse you of being selfish or of having ulterior motives, continue to practice kindness and gentle firmness with yourself and your precious followers.
3. Show your children how to succeed by being maximally successful yourself. If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway, if not for your sake, for the sake of your children.
4. Exemplify honesty, simple directness and frankness. Know that this skill will make you vulnerable. Be open and honest anyway.
5. Share your biggest dreams, your greatest thoughts. Realize that the smallest people with the smallest ideas usually attack the
greatest people with the biggest ideas. Think and dream big anyway.
6. Children often favor underdogs, but they follow top dogs. Teach them to serve the underdogs. Even if those you help resist or attack you, serve them anyway as an example of family leadership.
7. Fight for the underdogs. Treat everyone as important people. Such treatment is called “respect.”
8. Give the world your best. Give your children the best parenting you have developed. Even if you spend years building your parenting skills, never give up on yourself. Even when what you build is destroyed overnight, build with your best anyway.
9. Be authentic and without pretense or arrogance. Never deceive or seek to hide who you really are from your
children. They need to know and trust whom they are following.
10. Love others as you love yourself. Love surely consists of the finest leadership qualities of patience, kindness,humility,respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty, commitment and service.Developing your family leadership skills is the greatest challenge you may ever have in life.
Do you want your children to develop the above 10 characteristics? As their leader, you might as well begin developing them within yourself now, whether or not you have children.
Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life coach. He serves on the faculty of the International University of Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams) the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!” (W.W. Norton 2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com.
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Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.
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