Of the more than 17,000 parents surveyed for my book, a whopping 70 percent confessed that they have no clue about what goals they should set for their kids. Caught up in the whirlwind pace of modern life, these parents were too busy to bother with a plan of action, and they were making excuses for not doing the most important job they'll ever have. In addition, 25 percent said that their primary goal was to create a teen who would stay out of trouble, and the remaining 5 percent said they had goals, but only vague ones like wanting their children to be happy. Reading the results of that survey made me want to drive door-to-door across America, shake every one of those parents by the shoulder, and shout, "Wake up!"
First you need to ask yourself, "What is really important to me? How do I measure my success as a woman and a mother and a person?" These are very challenging questions, but I believe we all have the ability to answer every question that we will face, if we stop and think it through.
I've got two sons, a 17- and a 24-year-old. If you asked me how I measure my success as a parent, I'd start with the predictable stuff: I want them to be happy, successful, nurturing, caring, good people. But I add to that my personal goal: to parent them in a way that allows them to discover their unique and authentic selves. I don't want to make them clones of me but to help them develop their individual gifts and talents, to explore their passions. What gives you peace as a parent is when you can say to yourself, I have nurtured my daughter's uniqueness. I have provided my son with a canvas on which to express his creativity. That's a great thing to be able to say.