Imagine for a moment that an omnipotent, extraterrestrial, or some being of your choosing – who is of course more benevolent than you – sent you a gift. Further, imagine that the gift you receive weighs approximately 8 pounds and is around 20 inches in length.
Upon receiving this gift, you notice immediately that this highly sophisticated present does not include an operating manual. The fact that there is no operating manual makes you a bit nervous but your anxiety subsides a bit once you read the attached note:
“Here lies the exact gift presented to the parents’ of one of the world’s most famous billionaires. This gift has the ability to exceed your family’s wildest dreams and imaginations. This gift has the power to change the course of history.
All you have to do is protect the gift as if your life depended on it, teach the gift as if you expected it to be the smartest living being on the planet and nurture the gift with unconditional love for eighteen to twenty-one years. That’s it! Now good luck! And for God sake, please don’t make a mess of things!
WARNING – If you fail to follow these easy instructions, you, your family, your community and possibly the world will have hell to pay!”
THE SUPREME GIFT
I’m sure that by now, you know that the “present”, I’m referencing is a baby. However, what you may not have considered fully is that a baby and the opportunity to be a parent is the “supreme gift”. If you have not completely considered the prestige of the gift of parenting, you are not alone. In far too many cases, parents routinely and incorrectly view their child as a chore, an imposition and an inconvenience rather than as the next world famous billionaire.
If you would indulge me for a few moments, I would like to discuss briefly the nature of billionaires. Parents could learn a great deal from Billionaires. For starters, parents could learn what it truly means to commit to a vocation – to pursue one’s purpose. All one needs to do is review the amount of time parents actually spend with their children – compared to the time commitment billionaires make to their ventures – to know that in general parents don’t completely grasp what it means to “be all in”.
Billionaires plan and sacrifice everything in order to succeed. Billionaires exist beyond simply accumulating more money. Billionaires are unsatisfied by being mediocre, average or good. Billionaires are visionary and find satisfaction only in great accomplishments. Thus when one compares the habits of billionaires to those of parents, there are no questions to be asked about how and why we are raising a nation of children who fall short of reaching and realizing their innate potential and ability. By in large, parents are “not all in”.
AND THE SURVEY SAYS
According to a 2013 Pew Research study, mothers and fathers spent an average of 14 hours and 7 hours a week respectively with their children. Assuming each child slept eight hours a day, mothers spend an average of 12.5% of the awake hours with their children. While fathers spend an average of 6.25% of the awake hours with their children.
Despite these paltry numbers, parents everywhere are patting themselves on the back and grading themselves as “excellent” and “very good”. To make matters worse, researchers have the audacity to conduct studies not to illustrate the value of engaged, purposeful and nurturing parenting but instead to make the multitude of “average to below average” parents feel good about themselves.
Look and listen closely and you will see and hear for yourself the misconstrued phrase often repeated “quality over quantity”. Better to spend a little quality time over an abundance of useless time is what the researchers report. Duh! As a nation, are we truly that gullible? Did someone really get paid to tell us what we already knew?
Of course, quality trumps quantity when judging between engaged and disengaged parenting? We don’t need a PhD to know when a study is useless do we? Where, instead, is the study which asks and answers “does a large quantity of quality parenting trump a little bit of quality parenting?” Where is the study which quantifies and qualifies where the tipping point of engaged parenting begins and when the marginal utility of engaged parenting is reached?
BABIES AS FUTURE PROFIT CENTERS
All this talk about billionaires might lead one to believe that I expect children to become their household’s future profit centers. For the record, I don’t have that expectation. I’ll leave that inane hope to the youth sports parent.
And although, I’m not encouraging parents to hold their breath with anticipation that their child will strike it rich and famous, it is worth mentioning that every billionaire and every famous person is someone’s child. It’s also worth noting that all future world famous billionaires will have been conceived by the same process that created you and me – “the birds and the bees”.
So what’s the point? The point is to take a moment to honestly evaluate yourself as a parent – to ascertain if and how you might parent differently if you thought you were the parent of the next world famous billionaire?
- Would you continue to spend a mere 7 to 14 hours a week with your future world famous billionaire?
- Would you give your future resident world famous billionaire only 6.25% to 12.5% of your time?
- Would you demand a world-class education for your future world famous billionaire or would you allow them to continue to receive what is most likely a substandard education?
- Would you continue serving a world famous billionaire meals which consists primarily of GMOs, artificially flavored and processed foods?
- How often would you physically, verbally or sexually abuse your in-home future world famous billionaire?
- Would you entrust the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being of your future world famous billionaire – as you do now – to just about anyone?
There are so many other worthwhile questions that could be asked of you but additional questions would just be overkill. The fact of the matter is that most parents would parent much differently, if they thought their child was a future world famous billionaire. The aforementioned statement is not only a fact but it is also a disconcerting reality.
Face it folks, we are a nation obsessed with fame and fortune. Let’s be honest, if most of us knew that our child would be the next Beyoncé, Elon Musk, LeBron, Taylor Swift, Kobe, Serena, Oprah, Jennifer Lawrence or Barack Obama we would protect, teach and nurture them in ways we have yet to imagine.
But why should ten digits and three commas (or for that matter seven digits and three commas) make that much difference in the way we parent? I’m sure all children, regardless of whether or not they became a billionaire, would like to live in a world where every parent treated them as the “supreme gift”.
BACK TO WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
So I’ll end where I began with a vision. A vision of what our cities, states, communities and schools would look like if parents would follow the simple instructions attached to their “gift”: “protect the gift as if your life depended on it, teach the gift as if you expected it to be the smartest living being on the planet and nurture the gift with unconditional love for eighteen to twenty-one years”?
In the end, we might not be a nation of billionaires but the quality of life and caliber of citizen in this country would reach levels previously thought unattainable. Isn’t that reason enough alone to raise every child like a future world famous billionaire?
Are you treating your child like a future world famous billionaire or like an unwelcomed indigent intruder? Do you realize that your child could actually be the next world famous billionaire?