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Turn Out A Better Generation

Dec 10, 2007
The hope of our future depends upon our youth. If you're a parent, grandparent, or teacher and sometimes feel as though you have no influence, remember this quote by William Ross Wallace: "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."

Recently, I had a terrific experience with one of my daughters. On her own, she volunteered to provide service to a family in need. After completing her commitments to this struggling family, she shared her experience of serving. I was emotional listening to her explain her thoughts and feelings about the events surrounding this opportunity. While watching her eyes and expressions and listening to her tender thoughts and feelings, I noticed how much more advanced and wise my daughter seemed to be than where I was years ago at her same age. I shared the experience with my mother (who I knew would be a proud grandmother). My mother was thrilled, as she said to me, "That's perfect! Your job is to turn out a better generation." My mother pointed out that many times parents feel competitive with their children. But really, parents should be thrilled to watch their children out do them. She said, "If every generation put out a better generation, our world would be a better place. What better tribute to a family heritage than to send out a more improved version every few decades?"

How can we influence an improved generation of youth? Here are 10 suggestions for parents, grandparents, and even teachers and loving, influential friends:

1. Trust them! Children are born with inner knowing and are often more in tune with what's right and best than their parents realize. Often, adults shut this inner knowing down in youth by projecting fear and judgment and pressing upon them rules of social conditioning. Usually, our youth will naturally graduate toward greatness if we trust them and allow them to be authentic, remove our judgments and fears, and let their intuitive nature thrive and guide them.

2. See them! Parents and teachers frequently project their personal issues onto youth. What a parent fears will often play out in the life of a child. This can cause youth to act out in ways that are not natural to them. Consequently, destructive family patterns pass on, even when the behavior isn't instinctive to the child. When parents see their kids--who they really are--the youth are more apt to show up great. (For more on healing destructive patterns, see "Healing Your Family History" by Rebecca Linder Hintze.)

3. Listen to them! When parents and teachers are self-absorbed, they rarely listen to their youth. Listening is more than hearing what is being said. It is recognizing all that's being communicated and that includes paying attention to non-verbal cues. Doing this effectively requires a parent to step outside their own perception and see another's point of view. Children who are heard are more apt to keep the communication lines open--a critical factor in establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship.

4. Validate them! Once a child is heard, if they are validated, they feel more confident and empowered to succeed. Validation is they key to overcoming any relationship block! When we feel validated, we feel loved and supported. This process is absolutely essential to supporting healthy growth and self-esteem.

5. Encourage them! Today, most of the information communicated in our world is negative, or critical. As a society, we seem to miss this essential point--encouragement does far more good than any form of criticism, judgment, or negative influence.

6. Support them! Many youth today feel unsupported--either adults in their world don't do enough to sustain them, or they do too much, and consequently hinder their potential. Real support comes when the right balance is maintained. Know what your child can handle and still be successful. Then, maintain that balance.

7. Protect them! Healthy boundaries are essential throughout life. Teach youth to stay away from destructive influences that will literally ruin them--and stop them if they head down a destructive path. Adults don't let two-year-olds play in a busy road for good reason! There are many dangerous influences that threaten the lives of youth and keeping kids away from them is just as important as removing a baby from a busy road.

8. Guide them! Though teenagers think they know it all, good advice is best found from a loving, wise, and caring adult. I remind my teenage clients that their friends may seem smart, but really, they don't know much. Share your experiences and learning with youth and teach them correct principles that will foster long-term success.

9. Accept them! Remember in first grade when you colored a picture and you thought it looked great? If you saw it now, would it be a Rembrandt? Probably not. Youth will often do their best, and still it won't be as perfect as you can do now. What's not perfect is really perfect! We learn by making mistakes and healthy youth make a bunch of them. When I see a toddler throwing a fit, I smile and say, "He's perfect at being two." It really is okay when a teenager acts like a teenager and a wiggly boy acts rambunctious.

10. Love them! Living all these tips in relationships sends a loud message--that you love them! Ultimately, that's all you can do to support anyone--and it's the best thing you can do. Truly, all things will fail but love!

Your secret to being successful at accomplishing this list lies in your ability to apply these same solutions to yourself. If you struggle living these philosophies internally, you'll naturally resist applying them in relationships outside yourself.

If you are a person who trusts your judgment, sees your value, listens to your inner knowing, validates your feelings, encourages and supports yourself in healthy ways, has healthy boundaries and protects your environment, receives helpful guidance in a loving way, accepts your weaknesses and strengths, and has self-love--you'll find that guiding a better generation will come naturally.

As you heal, apply these principles--first, within. Next, use these tips in your relationships with family members, or with those you love and guide.
About the Author
Rebecca Linder Hintze is the author of, Healing Your Family History , (forward by Stephen R. Covey, Hay House, 2006). She is an internationally recognized expert on family issues, a radio show host, and a professional presenter who leads workshops worldwide. Website: http://www.rebeccahintze.com
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