Occasionally we will share stories of real-life family economies all over the nation. Today’s story is from Lee Pettijohn, AME’s web developer from Hermann, Missouri. (We’d love to hear your story; share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Tears were falling. Lips were quivering. My daughter said very calmly, “Dad, I just want to go home.”
When you’re the parent of a “little entrepreneur” and you have all the qualities of an entrepreneur yourself, you see a little bit of failure as their mentor when they get discouraged.
But, why? Haven’t we all gone through this before? Haven’t we all been at the point of wishing the towel was thrown as the ref continues counting. We’re on the mat. We’ve been beat up. We don’t know if we can go on.
Thankfully, I had coaches in my corner telling me to get up. These are the faithful family members, friends, or spouses. The journey might take a few twists and turns and we “might” even end up somewhere we didn’t even know existed. You thought you were on the road from point A to point B. You actually end up at point Q and may even say a prayer of thanks that you’re there.
That’s what your children who aspire to be entrepreneurs need. They don’t need a drill sergeant. They need a coach. They need support. They need to know they can count on you to be strong. But not strength to push them in a direction they don’t want to own. But strength that, regardless of the decisions they make, your love will continue and you will support them and guide them.
I was often struggling between two very real options. Later in life my kid can say, “I’m so glad you pushed me to keep going. Thanks dad! (insert smiley face).” Or there’s the alternative, “I resented you every time you made me keep doing this. Thanks dad! (insert sarcastic face).”
So, how do you know the difference of when to keep pushing and when to back off? Here are some suggestions:
- Make sure it’s their vision and not yours. When your kid has a great idea, let them take ownership of it. Nurture the idea in their head and give them the tools to see it come to life.
- Don’t let them quit just because it’s “hard.” Disciplining your children takes time and patience. It’s almost always easier to take over because you can do it quicker than they can. Don’t give in. Walk beside them and encourage them when they get frustrated, but let them experience “hard work” then let them experience a job well done.
- Take time at the beginning to make sure it’s an idea they will stick with. Entrepreneurs have visions all the time. New ways of doing things or new inventions that make work easier. Sometimes we forget that we need the voice of reason instead of just encouragement. When your kid has an idea, although they want you to be excited about this new thought, they will love you more later on if you help them flesh out the idea to the end instead of starting a new project just because, at first glance, it sounds “neat.”
- Teach them about grace. Kids want to be accepted. They like having people think well of them (don’t we all) and they get scared if they think you, as their parent, will be disappointed if they quit. Let them know that you will never stop loving them no matter if they stick with their idea or not. Don’t make your love and devotion to them hinge on something so trivial. Hug them. Kiss their forehead and tell them they can’t do anything to lose your love. God does the same thing with us, everyday!
- Let them be kids now. Giving a kid the option of letting go of an idea they’ve started will depend on their maturity level. Perhaps they’re young enough to learn a valuable lesson
- Set a goal and make them stick with it. Sometimes, if you’re kid is frustrated, it’s just because they’re having a bad day. First, calm them down. Don’t let them make decisions based on emotion. When they have a clear head, help them set an achievable goal and then stick with them til the goal is reached. After that, re-evaluate the situation, and let them make an informed decision.
You and your kid both stepped out in faith to see this idea come to life. It will be hard for both of you, but that’s how we grow. Look to the Lord for direction on whether you should keep pushing together when the going gets tough or maybe re-evaluate and find a new way to look at the situation. God loves coming into view when all looks hopeless. When you want what He wants, He’ll guide you exactly where He wants the both of you.
About the Author: Lee Pettijohn
Lee and his wife Keely are the parents of Julie Kay Pettijohn who “runs” Toffee on the Run. They live in a beautiful city called Hermann, Missouri where the idea was born. You can read all about her story and see some of her news interviews on her website.
Photos courtesy of Lee Pettijohn, excepting the Toffee on the Run promo photo, which is courtesy of Heather Berry.