• Dea Irby

Pandemic Parenting and Successmosphere

Now more than ever, parents have the opportunity to shape their children’s atmosphere and mindset. With almost NO outside influences, they are the sole potters shaping their children's lives. This could be great. Or, this could be disastrous.

What will our children say about this “special time” at home? Will it be, “‘member when we got to eat together and you were always home?” Or, will it be, “‘member when I didn’t get to see my friends and school was weird?” Parents have the power to set the tone. Make it an atmosphere of success; make it a successmosphere.

How do you create an atmosphere of success? Is it even possible? And, exactly what is an atmosphere of success? It is an environment that encourages positive thoughts and actions, a setting that provides for growth into a mature adult.

Just deciding that you want your children to be successful isn’t enough.

Having faith and believing that it will all turn out well isn’t enough.

Knowing the end goal isn’t enough, either.

So, how can you encourage and achieve success?

You can’t create the reality of success but you CAN create the possibility by being intentional and exemplary. A parent’s attitude is more contagious than the virus.

Before we look at the creation of the possibility of success, let’s see how an atmosphere of failure is developed. Viktr Frankl has proposed anticipatory anxiety: that which you fear the most is produced, in other words, “fear is mother to the event.”

A very tangible example of this is the basketball player who can’t make his free shots. Every time he lines up to shoot he feels the pressure of the moment and thinks, “I have to make this,” “I can’t miss it,” or “I’ll let the team down if I miss.” And, sure enough, he misses.

An atmosphere of failure is definitely possible, but what about an atmosphere of success?

Following are six strategies to consider that help promote successmosphere. And, yes, it is possible.

1. Believe in the possibility. Having a strong belief that the potential is there and not focusing on the obstacles. Be the victor not the victim. In the ball player’s scenario, he needs to say, “I am not a victim to failure. It is possible for me to make these shots and I will be responsible to work on my skills.” For the family, remember that each person has been gifted with abilities and talents that are meant to be part of the world. Believe in each one's uniqueness and provide a vision for what is possible.

2. Think outside the box but keep one toe on the bottom. Don’t be limited by what is practical or by what has been done before. Dream big-that’s the “outside the box” part. But, for dreams to come true there needs to be a plan- that’s the “keep one toe on the bottom.” Dreams with a plan become goals to achieve. Dreams without a plan remain dreams for someday and someday isn’t a day of the week. Parents can offer encouragement to think big and guidance with options for achieving the goals.

3. Be intentional. Awareness of the mission of creating the atmosphere of success is the first step on being intentional. Keeping this purpose in the forefront with intention is necessary. Another way to look at this is to be intentional about not doing things that create an atmosphere of failure. Words, for instance, can powerfully create that atmosphere. Using words that tear down, that are critical or judgmental, fill the air with tension which is not conducive to success. Children do become what you tell them they are. Make it positive.

4. Work on the fundamentals. Back to the ball player example, the coach needs to help the team member with his shot, how he stands at the line and does his pre-shot routine, how he holds the ball and releases the ball. Developing these basic fundamentals is required for the player to make forward progress. For the family, developing life skills and instilling character prepare children for the road ahead. While quarantined, children can be involved in all the parts of running a household and job shadowing if the parents are working from home. Include them. Children can learn to develop valuable relationship habits while in this pressure cooker. Preparation in these skills breeds confidence. Confidence empowers.

5. Be authentic. Focus on the strengths and develop those. Recognize the limitations of weaknesses. Another look at our sports analogy: a 5’8” player could play the post and a 7’4” player could play guard, but are those the positions that use their strengths best? If each person is designed and gifted for a purpose, the best choices focus on their strengths. Parents can encourage children in their interests, even if it seems “outside the box,” and help them discover their strengths. Passion matters, also, because sometimes their strengths don’t show up until years of maturity.

6. Surround yourself with successful, positive, supportive people. Being around positive people helps you see stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. “In one ear and out the other” doesn’t happen without stopping at the brain. Negative, that-won’t-work talk puts out fires of ambition. Without a vision for a positive future, people perish. And, having support from like-minded people makes the journey more hopeful and successful. Back to the basketball player, a team with a winning reputation attracts and develops winners. Attitudes of hard work and determination are the accepted norm and that promotes an atmosphere of success. The same can be true in the family. Our oldest daughter began writing music at 15 and created her first full musical, lyrics and script included, by the time she was 16. Her program was produced and performed in our own church and then on tour to other local congregations. This blazed a trail for what was possible. All eight of our children now create and perform music, sometimes in other countries. Supportive people are mentors that listen and ask the right questions. Especially now, you, the parent, are that listening advisor guiding your child in self-discovery.

Stop and be honest with yourself. The world is on pause for you to focus on those you love. What atmosphere have you built in your home? Remember, the parent is the thermostat of the home, the children are the thermometer.

Would you add any more strategies to the list? Which of these strategies is the hardest for you? How will your children remember these days of the pandemic? Are you creating a successmosphere?

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