Monday, February 1, 2016

7 Things to Avoid if You Want to Raise a Leader

If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you too?

Tom and I went to college in Duluth, Minnesota. Near the campus there was a local swimming hole. Jumping off the cliff was the quickest way to access the refreshing spring fed water.

So yes....

(NOTE: This is NOT a photo of the swimming hole--this is a picture of the Royal Gorge in Colorado- a bridge one would obviously not jump off of.)

A risk. A little danger.

But not a risky risk.

A reasonable risk is a good thing. 

We feel energized when we meet a challenge and conquer a fear.

This past summer Tom, Samantha, Kendra, and I went zip-lining across the Royal Gorge near Canon City, Colorado.

A risk.

But not a risky risk. Not recklessness.

My attitude of, "I don't want my girls to think I'm a wimp" moved me to push my fear-frozen, 1,000 pound feet forward toward the front of the line.

Fear almost prevented me from the thrill. Fear almost robbed me of a memory with my family.

Parents, okay mostly moms, are risk adverse. Understandably so. We don't want our kids to get hurt.

But...if we want to raise a leader, our kiddos need to experience taking a chance.

Of course I'm not talking about being reckless, careless, or immoral. I'm talking about a little adventure, some uncertainty, the risk of failure. A  "Let's give it a shot" mentality or "It's okay if I don't do it perfectly" mindset while staying true to your faith and maintaining your integrity.

Here are  7 things we must avoid if we want to raise a benevolent leader.

1. Avoid rescuing. Allow for failure and the learning which accompanies it.
2. Avoid being uber-realistic. Let your kids dream and pursue a passion.
3. Avoid rewarding just to "be fair". Rewards are earned. Rewards do not necessarily need to be material. Rewards can be internal-- leading to intrinsic motivation.
4. Avoid removing obstacles for your children. Let them jump the hurdle, deal with difficulty, and take responsibility for an undesirable outcome.
5. Avoid focusing solely on results. Performance plus perseverance matters. Character is often built in times of failure. Encourage your kids to appropriately share credit when there have been others involved in success.
6. Avoid raving when the results aren't great. Help your kiddos have an accurate assessment of  their strengths and weaknesses. Give feedback that's meaningful, clear, specific, concise, and present it with kindness. Train them how to advocate for themselves when they need assistance or support.
7. Avoid excessive screen time. Our kids need to excel in the soft skills of building relationships, interpersonal communication, conflict resolution.Teaching them to be kind will increase respectful behavior and attitude.

Building our kids' character by allowing some risks will increase their confidence and competence.  When they feel secure and loved they will be more satisfied and successful in life.

And on a final note, as I was buckled into the Zip-Rider and sailing over the Arkansas River at 1,200 feet, I was praying without ceasing.

When we allow ourselves (or our kids) to take a risk and conquer fear we discover who we are,  what we believe, and by doing so increase our dependence on our Heavenly Father.

The goal is to be who God created us to be. And part of achieving that aim includes conquering our fear and stepping out of the boat (or zip-lining over the Royal Gorge).

Faith. Faith isn't fear-less. Faith is fear conquered.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out,
“Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

“You of little faith,”
he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:25-33

With faith, hope, and love,
Lori Wildenberg
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, co-author of three parenting books.  Contact Lori for your next speaking engagement.

If you found this post helpful check out Lori's co-authored books:
Raising Little Kids with Big Love ( toddler to 9) and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love 
( tween to young adult).


  1. I appreciated the affirmation. That's pretty much how I parented my four, now grown, offspring. For example we were all tree climbers. When my kids friends would come over they wanted to follow up into the canopy. Some would ask me to help them up. I told them the same two rules I taught my kids when it came to tree climbing, "I don't put anyone up in a tree and I don't take anyone down from a tree." Kids do figure out how to get up quickly but I often had to encourage and instruct the getting down. However true to my word I never held or carried out one of them. They needed to discover they could do it on their own. THANKS! Good advice to those still in the midst of raising kids.

  2. Teri, I love your tree climbing rule. Smart! Thanks for your comment. And I'm sure your kids are glad they were raised in a home where they could climb trees!!!