The Best Parents Have the Longest Time Horizon
By: Lifebook VIP Members Joshua and Margie Boswell
The wise parent realizes that the average life span of a human being is currently pushing over 80 years, and we only get to closely parent our little ones for about 20 of those years.
Our greatest concern should be preparing them for those 60+ years that they are outside of our home and immediate influence.
So, the wise parent looks ahead and constantly asks things like…
* How will my choices today affect the life of my child when they are no longer with me?
* What can I do today to prepare them for a life of happiness, joy, and rejoicing?
* How will I empower and equip them to manage life’s stresses, challenges, and setbacks?
* What can I do today to help them feel comfortable with their own greatness and power?
Several months ago, Margie and I had the opportunity to be mentored by a truly remarkable man. He taught us that the wealthiest people in the world have the longest financial time horizons. They see far off and make decisions today in an effort to define their futures.
In other words, they are not overly worried about today, here and now. They are much more concerned about 3, 5, 10, 20 years from now. They forego immediate pleasures, hopes and dreams, and exchange them for long-term joys, abundance and wealth.
The wise parent does the same thing.
They do not try and rush through each day just to make it to the setting of the sun. Rather, they keep their eye focused on the life of their child when he or she is 20, 30, 40, 50, and beyond. Who will this child be in those later years? What is their unique calling in life? What will they need to know to raise a wonderful family themselves?
This kind of far-off, futuristic thinking takes a ton of courage. It takes a great amount of discipline. It takes great organization. It takes mountains of faith. It takes knowing how the seeds of choice will germinate, and what kind of fruit they will produce.
I remember once as a teenager, talking to a friend of ours who was a professional racecar driver. Since I had done my best to drive like a pro, I asked him what the best technique was for handling tricky corners and turns.
His answer surprised me.
“Don’t focus on the curve. That is what amateurs do. They get nervous and put their attention on the road right in front of them. The fear and attention on the immediate forces them to slow down. The real pros put their eyes on a spot just outside of the curve, just beyond their line of sight. This allows them to anticipate the full force of the curve, always be ready for what is coming next, and accelerate into the turn, instead of slowing down. If you can manage the end of the turn, the beginning and middle will flow naturally.”
Pretty good advice. And it makes sense.
As he was telling me that, my mind when back to a time when I was a little boy. I was walking along the sidewalk to school in Grinnell, Iowa. It was an old town then, and the sidewalks on the way to school were not that well maintained. This left large cracks and chunks of concrete sticking up everywhere.
I had tripped on those concrete chunks more than once (I was a heavy-set, really uncoordinated lad of 7… too many Twinkies I suppose… hehe). Being determined to not trip again, I put all my attention on the path right in front of me. This had some really odd consequences.
Once, I missed the left turn leading to the school. I had to re-cross the street and go back. A car almost hit me on the crossing… I hadn’t seen it because I was looking down.
Another time I ran into a tree. I dodged a big crack, but forgot there was a tree off to the side. I’d missed it being so focused on the immediate next step. My brother laughed at me and told me I was silly.
“Don’t you know you have to look up at where you’re going? If you do that, your feet will naturally miss the cracks and you won’t run into trees.”
Older brothers are so smart about these kinds of things!
When you have a long time horizon and are looking into the future, it shows up in your daily life.
I work from home and we homeschool our children. This means we are all here, all the time. Often, when I’m in the middle of a writing frenzy, Sariah (age 4) or Miriam (age 3) will come into my office with a book or a picture or a toy.
“Dad, look at this picture.” or “Daddy, will you read me this story?”
It is SO tempting to shoo them away and say, “Later sweetheart”, but in my mind I look far down the road and see a grown woman. She has confidence and courage and is content with life. She gives love and is loved in return. She nurtures and cares for all those around her.
The seeds of that love, confidence and courage were planted in her heart when she was a toddler. She gained that worldview because she always felt loved, appreciated, honored, and respected by her daddy. She knew that she was always more important than time or money.
Seeing that vision of my daughter as a poised, powerful woman, gives me the courage to set aside my writing for a few minutes and give my time to her.
That is one example of how having a long time horizon affects your daily actions as a parent.
I see this with Margie everyday. She has an endless stream of things to do around the home, but none capture her attention like giving her undivided focus to one of the children. Somehow, despite all she has to do, each child gets individual attention. Margie sees afar off and knows that daily routine should always give way to eternal nurturing.
Today, consider how long your time horizon is as a parent.
Do you feel like you are drowning in just trying to survive day to day? Are you so caught up in the moment that you fail to see the future?
If so, look up and look around. Take some time to consider who your child is and who they can become. Consider you next words, thoughts and choices. How will they bear fruit in the future?
See afar off and rejoice. The day-to-day management will flow naturally from there.